Mayor Billy Keyserling said the city could begin drawing up engineering plans for the day dock as soon as a second state grant is received in 2013. The city has $27,000 from the Department of Natural Resources and expects to receive an additional $35,000.
Some of money would be used for planning, he said. It would also be used to win federal grants to cover the rest of the $250,000 project.
The water sports center would be paid for and developed by a private business, council said.
The vote to add the marina proposal to the city's master plan was 4-1 with Councilman George O'Kelley Jr., voting against it.
The proposal has three main components:
"We voted for a concept and now this concept is growing wings and feet and a tail and everything," he said.
Councilman Mike McFee reiterated that the plan is conceptual, and said it was "ludicrous" to think council was approving the construction of a 7,000-square-foot building. All components of the plan will be vetted by multiple levels of planning staff, committees and council before coming to fruition.
This is the fourth time in two decades council has voted on a day dock expansion and the only plan to pass.
Councilwoman Donnie Beer voted against it previously and said although it took this long for her to change her mind, she believes it will benefit the community
Councilman Mike Sutton and Keyserling sided with several residents who said they support the plan because it connects the downtown to the water.
"I think it is an important step for righting something that was wronged so many years ago in erasing the heritage of our waterfront," Sutton said.
Resident David Bowie said details about the projects can be worked out later, but the proposal should be passed now.
"Beaufort is a waterfront community, and a waterfront community without any boats is sterile, and boats are part of the view as far as I'm concerned," he said "I like looking at boats."
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeonBeaufort.