Ches. City inches closer to new ferry service
— 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
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.
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.