The lights may soon go out for those along the Whitehall – Champlain Canal “free wall.”
Whitehall Town Supervisor Richard “Geezer” Gordon said he is now willing to bring the matter of the electricity provided along the wall to a vote at the next board meeting.
“I think that we are going to have the vote on this during the Oct. 13 meeting,” said Gordon. “I have no more interest in any property along the canal, and this is something I have been wanting to do since I first got here.”
Gordon had recently said he wanted to wait until the first of the year to make a decision on the matter, in part because the town was currently occupying Canal Corp. property in the Pavilion and it was planning to move soon.
However, Gordon said he would like to see the matter resolved sooner rather than later.
“I think that we can vote on this now,” said Gordon. “We have talked to the Canal Corp about this and I think that we are ready to make a decision.”
Last week, Champlain Harbor Marina owner Bob Elmy and Lock 12 Marina owner Ray Faville both said that they will most likely not be opening their marinas next summer, citing the increasing loss of business due to the availability of free boat docking along the Champlain Canal as the main reason for the closing of their docks. Both owners said the biggest problem they have is that the New York State Canal Corp. will not change its stance on having a free wall in Whitehall, where boaters can tie up for as long as 48 hours and have access to electricity on the docks and showering stations inside the Skenesborough Canal Park Pavilion.
“I understand where the town is coming from because they are being forced by the state to give the electricity,” said Faville. “But that irreparably hurts our businesses. We have to be able to make money. We all know that the economy is bad, and compound that with the free wall and neither of us are going to be able to make it past this winter.”
Previously, Gordon said the board would bring the matter to resolution at the beginning of next year.
“For now, we are going to stay the same for the rest of the season,” said Gordon. “We will look at getting the meters in here beginning next year. As a board, we felt it would be better to wait until we found out some more things before we brought the matter up to a vote.”
Gordon at the time added that the potential move from the Pavilion to a new town office was part of the reasoning behind the tabling of the matter.
Gordon also said that he has talked with Canal Corp. officials about meeting with them in the future.
“They are going to come up here for a meeting so we can get some things on the table,” said Gordon.