Ches. City inches closer to new ferry service

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By JA­COB OWENS

jowens@ce­cil­whig.com

— If the town and a new provider can iron out re­main­ing details, the canal town may once again be linked by a ferry service as soon as Aug. 1.

“We have a le­git, great ferry service that we want to take the next step with,” said Mayor Dean Geraci­mos at Mon­day night’s town meet­ing, de­clin­ing to name the service due to pend­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions. “This is a beau­ti­ful boat, a 1940s Ch­e­sa­peake Bay dead­rise, all-wood boat from North East.”

Geraci­mos said the town still had to check on proper li­cens­ing and per­mits, but ten­ta­tive ne­go­ti­a­tions would pro­vide util­ity service and a dock­ing space for the boat, which would in turn pro­vide a sched­uled ferry service between Ch­e­sa­peake City’s south and north sides.

“They’re only go­ing to charge $2 a per­son,” the mayor said.

Be­cause de­mand for a ferry service is some­what lim­ited, Town Man­ager San­dra Ed­wards said the pro­posed service provider has big­ger

CH­E­SA­PEAKE CITY

plans in mind as well.

“I be­lieve he has other plans in mind sort of like the Miss Clare,” she said. “We need to get a sched­ule put to­gether, and he hopes to start as soon as Aug. 1.”

The wa­ter­front town has been with­out a ferry service for the first time in years af­ter the re­tire­ment of Ralph and Clare Hazel, the op­er­a­tors of the Miss Clare, this past win­ter.

The new provider will only ini­tially be able to take groups of up to six peo­ple ac­cord­ing to its cur­rent li­cense, but there is plenty of room for bi­cy­cles to ac­com­mo­date users of the Ben Cardin Recre­ational Trail along the C&D Canal. Ed­wards said the provider was re­cep­tive to us­ing a big­ger boat or seek­ing a new li­cense to carry more users.

The town has been fer­vently seek­ing a new ferry service in or­der to get users from the trail­head on the north side to the shops and restau­rants on the south side. Oth­er­wise, bi­cy­clists would have to ride up and over the Ch­e­sa­peake City Bridge, a ven­ture fur­ther pained by the on­go­ing work there that will cause traf­fic de­lays through the sum­mer.

In the mean­time, some bed and break­fast own­ers have re­port­edly of­fered to pick up bi­cy­clists in vans to make the trip over the bridge, but a ferry service would make the jour­ney much less cum­ber­some.

“The goal is that on Fri­day af­ter­noon (the ferry) is pick­ing up 10 peo­ple on bikes from the trail with their back­packs to come here and stay the week­end,” Geraci­mos said. “There’s just so many op­por­tu­ni­ties there.”

The an­nounce­ment of a new ferry service dove­tails with an­other de­sire voiced by the mayor on Mon­day: the de­vel­op­ment of a mar- ket­ing fo­cus on at­tract­ing cor­po­rate re­treats to Ch­e­sa­peake City.

“In hav­ing these trails with all the dif­fer­ent things you can do on them, hav­ing a ferry service, hav­ing great restau­rants and busi­nesses to help a re­treat be suc­cess­ful, I think our next step is build­ing up our bed and break­fast busi­nesses dur­ing the week,” he said. “I want to put a big, big push behind this, even if it’s just busi­nesses com­ing from Wilm­ing­ton (Del.) for a two or three-day re­treat.”

The mayor di­rected Town Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Di­rec­tor Carla Min­ers to make such a mar­ket­ing strat­egy a pri­or­ity over the next year.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Ch­e­sa­peake City is get­ting closer to hir­ing a new ferry service af­ter the re­tire­ment of the Miss Clare, seen here, ear­lier this year, left the wa­ter­front town with­out such a service.

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