Questions Remain After Maricopa Water District Tries To Sink Small Sailboat Shop

For nearly 17 years, the Sailboat Shop offered sailing lessons and boat rentals at Lake Pleasant’s Pleasant Harbor. In the blink of an eye everything changed for Tom Errickson, the Sailboat Shop’s owner.

One year ago today, Errickson was advised by Glen Vortherms of the Maricopa Water District (MWD) that the District had entered into an agreement with another vendor, Clint Sutter, which gave him exclusive rights to provide sailing lessons. Vortherms told Errickson it “was not our intent but did happen.”


From: Glen Vortherms

Date: April 5, 2016 at 3:15:49 PM MST

To: Sailboat Shop

Cc: Chris Cain

Subject: RE: Sailboat Shop


We are running behind on our schedule and are still working on the lease agreement. I hope to have something to you by the end of the week.

Unfortunately, I am sorry we will not be able to include the ability for you to provide sailing lessons. As you and I discussed last month, the agreement MWD signed with Clint Sutter gave him exclusive rights to provide sailing lessons which was not our intent but did happen. I have talked with our attorneys and have been told that unfortunately there is nothing that we can do other than to honor the agreement. This means that I need to request that you stop providing sailing lessons from this date on. I realize this will have a significant impact on your business but as I said earlier my hands are tied on this matter.

I have talked with Clint and he has offered to sit down and talk with you regarding this matter but I leave that to your discretion.

Thank you.

Glen Vortherms

Maricopa Water District

The biggest problem with Vortherms’ claim: it isn’t true. According to Errickson’s attorney, Charles Johnson, Clint Sutter’s lease/license “does not in fact grant such an exclusive.”

Vorthem was responding to an email from Errickson regarding his lease. Errickson had been trying to get a new lease since his expired in 2003. The gang at the Maricopa Water District kept promising to send him a new proposed lease, but never got around to it, thus he has been on a month to month tenancy since 2003.

So when Errickson challenged the alleged exclusivity of the competitor’s contract, the gang merely evicted him with only 10 days’ notice. He had no legal recourse.





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He fought for and obtained several extensions to this 30 day eviction, by arguing that MWD had no right to evict him from real property that MWD never had the right to lease to him in the first place. In fact, the property was owned by the United States Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation (“BOR”) and MWD merely had an easement over that property to gain access to the surface of Lake Pleasant.


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Unfortunately, when the small business owner made this argument, the Bureau of Reclamation, recognizing its veracity, informed Errickson that he had to vacate the property of the United States upon which it was illegal to operate its business without federal permission. As the BOR explained to the attorney for MWD:



From: “Herndon-Ladewig, Jessica”

Date: September 21, 2016 at 10:51:21 AM MST

To: ,

Subject: MWD/Sail Boat Shop

Dear Mr. Heaphy,

Please find below the results of our office’s research into the relevant contracts applicable to the recent discussions of the sail boat shop (Shop) at Lake Pleasant.

Perpetual Easement 4-07-32-L3012 rerecorded April 11, 1995 states the following:

“All such proposed facilities within the easement area must be approved in advance by the Regional Director in accordance with Article 5.1.(d) (2) of the MWD Agreement.”

To paraphrase, for improvements on BOR land, MWD was required to seek Reclamation approval prior to allowing Sail Boat Shop, INC to develop and construct the Shop. Reclamation has no record of this approval.

Reclamation requests that MWD respond as to whether you have the documentation indicated above that would have been needed in order to place the Shop on Reclamation’s Lake Pleasant property.


It is Reclamation’s position that the Shop was never authorized to be developed and constructed on Reclamation property, therefore MWD has no rights related to this property including evicting the Shop tenant, and it is Reclamation that retains the rights to this Shop.


With multiple facets of non-compliance with the agreements being evident, we strongly encourage MWD and the Sail Boat Shop to resolve their differences in a prompt manner that results in immediately ceasing sale of any boats along with the timely removal of the unauthorized facilities.

Jessica Herndon-Ladewig

Bureau of Reclamation, Phoenix Area

To add insult to injury, not only has MWD staff allegedly damaged Errickson’s property while he was moving to his new location in Scorpion Bay, but his competitor isn’t playing fair. According to Errickson’s attorney, Charles Johnson, Sutter’s “staff is telling Sail Boat Shop customers that it is out of business. They are also booking rentals with customers who are led to believe that they are dealing with my client. They are deceiving customers who are looking for the Sailboat Shop into thinking they are doing business with the Sailboat Shop. That constitutes intentional interference with business.”

Errickson says the support he has received from customers, friends, and sailing club members has been overwhelming. He continues to operate his boat rental business at Lake Pleasant from his new location at Scorpion Bay. The boats are now rented only to certified students and those that have passed a check out.

Erricksons sail boat shop was operated for 17 years at Lake Pleasant’s Pleasant Harbor right next to the sailboat storage yard, rest room, and launching ramp, from the full service facility he created, which included an office, a parts and supplies store, a sales and rental boat yard, and a boat repair and maintenance facility stocked with all of the necessary equipment and tools. His once thriving business has been reduced to operating out of a construction trailer in the middle of the sailboat storage yard at Scorpion Bay, far from the launching ramp and restrooms, with no area for sales and rental.

To this day, Errickson has no idea why MWD chose to put him out of business and install a newcomer instead. Nor why MWD chooses to ignore the plain meaning of the English language and insist that Errickson’s competitor has an exclusive arrangement; one that MWD insists it did not intend to grant to Errickson’s competitor.




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Source : Arizona Daily Independent