BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Around 300 Coast boat owners are now scrambling for a new place to drop anchor.
The management of the Biloxi Boardwalk Marina and Boat Storage on Point Cadet told boaters this week that the marina will be closing in less than two weeks.
An email sent Tuesday to around 300 boat owners who use the marina said all of the boats must be moved out of the dry dock storage warehouse by Oct. 4.
The email stated, in part:
“We regret to inform you that we have made the tough decision to close Biloxi Boardwalk Marina on October 4, 2020. We would like to thank you for your business and support over the years; however, business expenses, property taxes, Submerged Land Lease, insurance, etc. has steadily increased to a point that this is not a profitable business and we are forced to close.”
The news surprised many of the boat owners, surprising them at the suddenness of the closure.
“It was a bit of a shock,” said Mike Fleming, who lives on his 27-foot sailboat at the marina. “I finished work, went back to my boat. I checked my e-mail and the marinas closing. What’s going on”
Fleming works for VanOsdel Marine, which has the service contract for the marina, providing maintenance for most of the boat owners there.
The company’s owner Jay VanOsdel and his eight-year-old son live on a boat in the marina, as well.
“Yeah, we just found out (Tuesday) afternoon that both business and the home is no longer available,” said VanOsdel. “So I’m not sure what we’re going to do.”
The two men were busy preparing to remove their tools and wondering how they would finish repairing the boats at the facility before the Oct. 4 deadline.
That’s the last day the marina’s lifts will be available to remove boats.
John Butirich, who owns the land, said he is foreclosing on the property because the purchaser Ferrara Land Management has not made payments. Ferrara disputes that claim.
In a statement to WLOX, Ferrara said: “We cannot compete with the city-owned marinas and, therefore, we have made the decision to close and return the property to the property owner.”
Ferrara said it has made $6 million in improvements since taking on the land after Hurricane Katrina.
The restaurant on the property, Gollott’s Fresh Catch Seafood, will remain open but seven employees at the marina will lose their jobs.
While marina space across the Coast is ample, dry dock facilities are not.
“With the municipal marinas, yeah, there’s plenty," explained VanOsdel. "There’s definitely more slips than there are boats. It’s definitely the dry storage stuff that’s the problem here. There are two other dry storage facilities. Their locations aren’t quite as good, and they’re fairly full already. So I know I’ve had a lot of customers reaching out to me and they’re having a difficult time finding a new place for their boats as well.”
Ferrara said it would issue a refund to any members who have pre-paid their lease.