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Fort Lauderdale mayor: Commit to boating industry

Fort Lauderdale mayor Jim Naugle, in his final state-of-the-city address Wednesday evening, told commissioners that city government should remain friendly to the marine industry because boating is a big part of South Florida living and is the region’s largest  industry, with a $13 billion impact.

Naugle, a six-term mayor who retires from office March 17 because of term limits, received his first government appointment — to Fort Lauderdale’s Marine Advisory Board — 24 years ago. He since has been a strong industry advocate.

As boating businesses struggle through the recession, Naugle recommended measures to help keep the industry healthy when the economy turns around:

• Strengthen waterfront zoning that promotes marine use.
• Work for reasonable regulation and easy permitting.
• Dredge — “Maintain our wet streets,” he said.
• Maintain the navigability of rivers and waterways by building drawbridges and high-rise bridges that don’t restrict commerce on the river.
• Support sales-tax exemptions for foreign and out-of-state vessels so they can visit Florida up to 180 days without being subject to the state’s 6 percent sales and use tax on boats and other big-ticket items.
• As the Bahia Mar Yachting Center is redeveloped, make sure it can continue to host the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show for years to come.

Naugle delivered the state-of-the-city address at the Lauderdale Marine Center, one of the nation’s largest boatyards on 50 acres on the New River. LMC has 3,300 feet of parallel dockage on the New River, with 125 floating slips, 29 megayacht docks, 19 covered sheds and dozens of tenants and contractors who work on boats at the yard.

“This facility is very important to our city,” Naugle said. “It represents how important this industry is to us.”

— Jim Flannery

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