A pair of floods, gas prices that refuse to come down substantially, and the continuation of a depressed economy appear to have delivered the final blow to another Whitehall business.
Ray Faville, owner of Lock 12 Marina and Finch and Chubb Restaurant, confirmed Monday that he and his wife Linda were closing their doors on Oct. 15 and that both the restaurant and the marina would not be reopening in the spring.
“It’s all those factors together. The bottom line is I’m in business to make money and I haven’t been doing much of that the last three years,” Faville said.
“Linda and I have been here for 26 years. It’s a great community and we’ve met some great people. We have many faithful patrons and have made a lot of friends, but it’s been one thing after another.”
This year’s boating season was particularly disappointing, Faville said.
A prolonged period of flooding in the spring delayed the opening of theChamplainCanaland both local marinas. And when they finally opened, the boat traffic just wasn’t there.
At the time, Robert Elmy, owner of Champlain Harbor Marina, described the season as dismal.
“The seasonal boaters just aren’t here,” he said.
Those issues were compounded when Tropical Storm Irene moved through the area earlier this month.
AlthoughWhitehallavoided the brunt of the storm, high water levels caused the closure of theChamplainCanalfor several days and the loss of any money that could have been made from boaters passing though the area.
The Canal Corp.’s requirement to keep the locks open to ensure water didn’t overspill its banks in the canal also resulted in a torrent of water washing into Champlain Harbor which caused damage to docks at both marinas.
Faville also continues to contend that the Canal Corp. Visitor’s Center and the corresponding mooring wall have affected his business.
Even though the town no longer offers free electricity, Faville said the damage had already been done.
“Over the last eight years it has really hurt. I know the electricity is no longer on but it’s become lets go toWhitehalland go to the free wall,” he said. “Whitehalljust doesn’t need any more marinas.”
Higher gas prices have also left their mark, limiting the number of people who go boating and how far they travel.
Faville, for instance, said the amount of fuel he sells at the marina has dropped from 40,000 to 50,000 gallons a few years ago to as few as 10,000 gallons this year.
Business hasn’t been much better across the harbor.
Elmy said this year has been “almost too overwhelming, but the plan is to back in the spring.”
“Right now we are planning to re-open and to be a full service (marina),” Elmy said.
He said he understands many of the hardships Faville has been through, but hoped the closure could breed new life into his marina in much the same way the closing of Lowe’s did for Aubuchon Hardware in Ticonderoga.
“There might be enough business for one marina, but not two,” Elmy said.
Although the decline of Whitehall’s marina’s is nothing new, both Elmy and Faville said last fall they were unsure if they were going to be open this spring-the closure of Finch and Chubbs, a popular, local eatery was a little surprising, and points to a disturbing trend in the local economy.
In the past two months, Whitehall has seen a popular up and coming restaurant shut its doors on a full time basis less than a year after opening (Smokin’ on the Water), and just watched Aubuchon Hardware abruptly close its doors after 35 years in business. Not to mention that the Skyline facility in Fair Haven will shut its doors in approximately two weeks, leaving close to 75 people without jobs.
“The village, the town and the state really need to think about what’s going on in this community. Look at what’s happened to Linda and I, and we’re an established business that’s been for here for 26 years. Imagine how difficult it is if you’re starting a new business.”
Faville said the entire property-the restaurant, marina and inn-remains for sale, but regardless of whether it sells over the winter, the marina and the restaurant would not open next spring.
The couple will continue to serve dinners through Oct. 15 and will host an open house from10 a.m.to3 p.m.this Friday, Saturday and Sunday where they will sell some of the restaurants equipment and furnishings.