Battle lines drawn over proposed Arizona marina

PHOENIX – A proposed 240-acre marina on Arizona’s Lake Pleasant has provoked a legal and public relation’s battle between those who hope to build the $20-million project and those who want to sink it, the Arizona Republic reported in a story this morning.

The cash pouring into this waterfront war illustrates how much is at stake for investors and opponents of Scorpion Bay Marina & Yacht Harbor, which is planned for the western shore of the lake.

Within a month of securing a building permit, investors have agreed to put $11 million into escrow to guarantee that the marina’s first phase gets built. And Wisconsin-based Skipper Marine Development, which plans to build and operate the marina, has spent at least $1 million for design and other preliminary work, the newspaper reported.

At the heart of the opposition to the project is Paradise Valley businessman David Maule-Ffinch and his Pensus Group, which owns the lake’s only marina, Pleasant Harbor Marina.

“For a year and a half, we invested our time, energy and money in this project, and all of a sudden a challenge comes,” Mike Pretasky Sr., chairman and CEO of Skipper Marine, told the newspaper. “We have no choice (but to fight back) because we have so much money invested.”

Scorpion Bay investors say they want to create a family friendly, affordable alternative to Pleasant Harbor Marina. But Maule-Ffinch and others say a second marina would overcrowd the lake, create environmental and safety hazards and cause the county to lose money in the long term.

A law firm hired by Maule-Ffinch filed a suit last year challenging the way the county awarded a construction and management contract for the privately financed marina. The case has been appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court, according to the article.

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