By Suzy Kridner
NEW SMYRNA BEACH - Fishermen, boaters and waterfront residents were treated Tuesday to a preview of the route to be taken when the Water Taxi Express starts up in a few weeks.
Director of Operations Paige Stuart said stops are planned at the Brannon Center's new floating dock at Riverside Park with access to Canal Street and at the Riverview Hotel on Flagler Avenue.
The city unanimously approved the licensing agreement last week with Daytona Beach Aqua Safari and its owner, Matthew Dvorak. The next step is to finalize the route and determine the time between stops, Ms. Stuart said. The timing was being done Tuesday.
Mr. Dvorak negotiated the license agreement and will provide advertising on the boats in lieu of fees. The advertising will promote the city's Waterfront Loop and the events planned along the loop.
William Heller of the Riverview Hotel said, "We are very supportive of the water taxi. We are definitely going to work it out."
"It will be great for the area and great for tourism," he said.
"We still don't have a confirmed opening date but hope to begin within the next few weeks," Ms. Stuart said.
"We will leave our first stop in Ponce Inlet (Inlet Harbor) at 10 a.m. and return to our last stop at 6 p.m., (again until further notice.) We would love to expand to 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. in due time."
She said private charters will be offered for groups who are interested. Group rates will vary and details and reservations are available by calling (386) 589-1768.
All day, unlimited passes will be $15 for adults, $10 for kids between the ages of 3 and 12, and under 3 are free, said Ms. Stuart.
In other action at the City Commission meeting, a request from Tami Messina for Community Redevelopment Agency funds totaling about $173,000 for a two-story bed and breakfast, Inn on the Avenue, was cut to $75,000.
Ms. Messina, owner of the inn at 309 Flagler Ave., said Friday she's still planning to go ahead with the project. At a meeting earlier this year, she went over her plans with the City Commission, acting as the CRA board, and thought they were in favor of the project.
But last week, she said, Commissioner Judy Reiker said she'd like to see funds go to larger projects.
"Although the commission cut my fund to $75,000, I'm happy with that. Anything I got was a blessing," said Ms. Messina.
The commission unanimously denied an ordinance to allow mobile food vendors in commercial or industrial zones. The Planning and Zoning Board had rejected "food trucks" earlier.