Mayor Harry Winthrop clarified the council may only receive the communication, but requested the issue be placed on the following meeting's docket so councilors may vote on the recommendations.
Howington said the terms do not allow the city to reopen the 30-year lease but it allows for adjustments if there are discrepancies from the time it was signed in 1993.
“We then look at those to see if we should be revising those. We did look at that,” she told councilors.
The rent, which is adjusted annually according to the CPI, was $4,175 per month in 2012. The agreement also includes intangible benefits such as: slip spaces for the city's harbormaster vessels, use of hauling equipment, a harbormaster maintenance building, seawall maintenance, public space for city events, youth sailing programs, regattas and improvements to the property, including a plan to spend $868,496 on repairs to a pier.
"The Newport Yacht Club is an important partner with the city. Their membership is not looking for a handout," said Councilor Michael Farley, who was the only councilor to speak about the matter at the meeting. He said the rent was equivalent to a small retail space on Thames Street.
“They want to pay a fair price," he said. "Until now, the city has refused to take them up on their offer. That needs to change.”
He directed the city manager to Council Resolution 2013-123, which was passed by city council on July 24. The resolution stated the city manager would “renegotiate the lease and bring to the city council a revised agreement no later than October 15, 2013.”
“Adjusting this rent payment is one small idea which makes sense,” said Farley after the meeting. “It's an opportunity which only appears every ten years. If the city manager won't renegotiate as she was instructed, maybe we need a new city manager,” he said.
Newport Yacht Club Commodore Stewart Abramson and Past Commodore Steve Lepley asked members not to engage in the debate. In an email sent to members on Oct. 11 they wrote:
On July 13, 2013 a request was made by Past Commodore Anton to “maintain a business-like approach to these negotiations…and refrain from communicating/commenting to the press or social media sites,” Steve Lepley and I would like to reiterate and reinforce that thought and, again, request that all members wait for final results of that important vote.
City council meetings are a public forum, but we will respectfully request that you not attend unless you have something personal on the docket.