New planned Ches. City ferry ser­vice sinks

Cecil Whig - - BUSINESS - By JA­COB OWENS

jowens@ce­cil­whig.com

— Un­for­tu­nately, town lead­ers are once again back at the draw­ing board on a new ferry ser­vice af­ter the lat­est plan to be an­nounced failed to come to fruition.

At the town’s July 11 meet­ing, Mayor Dean Geraci­mos an­nounced that town of­fi­cials had iden­ti­fied a “le­git, great ferry ser­vice” with whom they were ne­go­ti­at­ing terms. While de­clin­ing to pub­licly iden­tify that

CH­E­SA­PEAKE CITY

ser­vice, the mayor re­ferred to the boat as “a 1940s Ch­e­sa­peake Bay dead­rise, all-wood boat from North East,” which he hoped could be­gin serv­ing cus­tomers as soon as Aug. 1.

On July 29, how­ever, Ch­e­sa­peake City posted a note on its web­site in­form­ing res­i­dents that the ferry ser­vice would not be launch­ing as planned.

“Re­cently we thought we had fi­nally found a cap­tain and boat to come to town for the pur­pose of giv­ing canal boat tours for our vis­i­tors to en­joy, and, more im­por­tantly, to pro­vide an en­joy­able way to cross the canal from one side of town to the other,” the note reads. “We es­pe­cially wanted a ferry busi­ness that could ac­com­mo­date the many peo­ple who ride their bi­cy­cles along the Ben Cardin C&D Canal Recre­ational Trail who would like to visit the re­tail busi­nesses on the south side of Ch­e­sa­peake City. The new ferry ser­vice was an­nounced to start on Aug. 1, but un­for­tu­nately this will not be tak­ing place. We are still look­ing.”

Dur­ing the town board’s dis­cus­sions about the ferry ser­vice, Coun­cil­man Harry Samp­son ex­pressed con­cerns with the low price of cross­ings that the undis­closed busi­ness was propos­ing, $2 per per­son, not­ing that would barely cover the costs of op­er­a­tion for fer­ry­ing pas­sen­gers. Town Man­ager San­dra Ed­wards noted that the busi­ness was look­ing at more than just a ferry sched­ule to make the ven­ture worth their while.

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 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.”

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