Marina vitality

The Storm Lake Marina on the west side always has been loaded with potential and fraught with disappointment. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources a few years ago invested up to $4 million in making a beautiful facility that should be a thriving showplace for outdoor recreation. But it never took off despite the best of intentions. One reason: beer, or lack thereof.

The state bars itself from selling alcohol at its facilities. That’s why Okoboji marinas were not terribly interested in Storm Lake when IDNR sought out a marina vendor. Shamrock Boat Sales told authorities that the marina would not float so long as beer sales are banned.

That may or may not be true. Whatever the case, IDNR asked the city to take the property off its hands and run the operation under city rules. That is: Find a vendor who will sell stuff, including food and beer, to people who visit the marina. Make it a place that is inviting to visitors, first over all.

It should be a place that operates under extended hours seasonally. It should serve breakfast, dinner and supper. It can be a place where a lounger can watch the sun set over the lake enjoying a cold one. There is nothing wrong with that.

We should also expect it is a place that will showcase new watercraft. That has not been the model for many years. If you can buy a new boat in Algona with no lake, you should be able to buy one here. First, you must be able to draw a crowd. That’s where the food, beer, chips, etc. come in.

The city should be able to find an operator who can make the marina work, finally. The facilities are there. All it takes is hard work and imagination. The capital is already invested.

This agreement will be a good thing for Storm Lake. It will help draw a crowd and, yes, it might help spread some fun around. Better yet, it should result in stronger oversight and control of the marina operator.

The city might also find ways to improve the marina if it can take a load off IDNR’s shoulders. Boaters have complained since it opened that the boat ramps are too steep. If we can show increased usage the ramps will get redesigned sooner than if the marina languishes as it has.

This is a deal we should all hope works out.

Biden phones Iowa

Vice President Joe Biden does not call Iowa the morning after city elections to check the weather. He may be checking political winds. Much was made about Biden calling the wrong Mayor Walsh in Boston, next door to New Hampshire. He also called the mayor-elect of Corvalville not far from Iowa City the Wednesday after the election to offer congratulations. But isn’t Hillary Clinton the Democratic nominee for 2016?

That’s what everyone thought in the run-up to 2008. Then this guy with big ears and a funny name strode onto the stage in Chicago. Hillary Clinton, meet Barack Obama.

Clinton did not play early in Iowa. Biden and Obama did. She was the presumptive nominee. Why bother with Iowa and its peculiarly liberal caucuses?

Clinton again is the odds-on favorite. The latest poll shows she enjoys 65% support among Democrats, compared to 13% for Biden and 4% for liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. At this point in 2005, Barack Obama was still trying to get into the US Senate as the underdog (until a sexual caper undid his popular Republican opponent, who quit the race). Point being, political careers can rise as fast as they fall.

We get emails from Warren and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D, NY. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., spoke at the North Iowa Wing Ding. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, recently spoke at the Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner in Des Moines. Then there’s Martin O’Malley of Maryland, Andrew Cuomo of New York, Antonio Villaraigosa of California and several others of ambition who escape immediate recall.

Biden is being the most direct, as always. Clinton is doing the speaking circuit for the time being, while husband Bill campaigns everywhere for anyone.

She does not have the Iowa Caucuses locked up, no matter what the polls suggest. They were wrong last time. Biden obviously thinks they can be wrong again.

Meantime, no Republican stands out. Rick Perry just visited on the heels of Ted Cruz. Then there’s Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie. Each hovers near 15% support, depending on the week. Every one of them must find a ticket out of Iowa.

Anyone hoping to get in Clinton’s way needs an asphalt machine running over Iowa, not just a ticket.