The owners of the Valley Gem Sternwheeler did not speak at Thursday's special meeting, and left without commenting. But they had plenty of supporters who spoke of its place in Marietta's tourism industry. the owner of the property, for which the Valley Gem successfully bid, was also there.
"I'm just here to ask you to look at both bid packets and determine the legality of whether both bids meet bid specifications," Shanna Woodford, the other bidder on the property, told council Thursday.
" Unless there's some irregularity on the bidding proceedure, the law is clear that we accept the high bidder," said Councilman Mike McCauley.
The Woodfords say there are irregularities. And some on city council agree, making note of whether the docking area which has been for recreational boaters will now become a commerical enterprise.
"In our diagrams, it shows times when the Valley Gem can lay down across the two," Councilman Harley Noland noted, "and they believe that's commercial use, and that violated the bid specs."
"Believe me, I'm very supportive of what the Valley Gem wants to do," member Tom Vukovic added. "But all along, I've maintained that should be a dockage for the public to use."
The captain of the sternwheeler sought public support through e-mails of its plans to renovate the docking area near its paddlewheel boat, which makes daily excursions during the summer tourism months. The city of Marietta reccommended the Valley Gem be awarded the property. and due in part to one council member being absent, the council president had to break a three-three tie vote.
"I vote no," Walt Brothers decided. "The motion is defeated."
Meaning the effort to throw out the two bids was unsuccessful. The Woodfords declined to say whether they would seek a legal challenge.