Electric services along wall: Debate balances costs vs. attracting boaters

B oaters passing through Whitehall this summer may be able to access electrical services along the mooring wall behind the New York State Canal Corp. Visitors Center.

Supervisor George Armstrong expressed his desire to see power along the wall restored during a meeting with Canal Corp. officials on Monday morning.

“I’m in favor, and always have been in favor, of providing electricity along the wall,” Armstrong said.

Of the communities along the statewide canal system that have access to electrical hook-ups, officials with the Canal Corp. said Whitehall is the only one that doesn’t provide electricity — free or charged — to boaters.

But it hasn’t always been that way.

When the visitors’ center was constructed in 2000, pedestals were installed along the wall behind the facility and boaters could use them to access free electricity.

Those pedestals became a source of debate, however, when local business owners claimed they were hurting their businesses.

Ray Faville, who owned Lock 12 Marina, and Robert Elmy, who owns Champlain Harbor Marina, argued for years that the services hurt their businesses and put them in direct competition with the town for a service they couldn’t afford to provide for free.

Faville has since gone out of business and lost the property as part of a bankruptcy reorganization plan. Champlain Harbor Marina has been on the market for several years.

To appease the struggling businesses, the town board voted in October 2010 to stop providing electricity behind the wall and the services were shut off before the boating season began last spring.

 

Not boat-friendly

But Armstrong believes shutting the power off may have actually hurt commerce.

“I think we took a bit of a black eye when it happened,” Armstrong said. “I don’t want Whitehall to be known as unfriendly to boaters.”

Last summer was a particularly dismal year along the canal, at least in Whitehall. Traffic along the canal was down and while the economy and early season flooding certainly could be blamed for the decline; some officials have wondered if some of it could be attributed to a perception that Whitehall doesn’t cater to boaters.

In the past, the town covered the cost of electricity at a cost of approximately $800 to $900 per year. But not all the communities along the canal system provide amenities for free.

According to John Callaghan, deputy director of the Canal Corp., some communities ask boaters to pay a nominal fee.

“It helps them recoup the small costs it takes to provide these services,” he said.

Armstrong said he would like to see the power restored on some sort of metered system. “I think people would pay for it but there’s just not a good way to do it,” he said.

Callaghan said some communities have locked their power pedestals and charged boaters a small fee to have them unlocked. “We feel the value to the community outweighs the cost of electrical services.”

He said the system has worked very well across the state but the agency prefers to defer to the judgment of the towns and the villages regarding electrical services.

The town board may discuss the matter in further detail at their next meeting on May 9.

Comments

comments

Read more in this week's Times in newsstands now or click here to read right now with our e-edition.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Poultney Earth Fair Wednesday, April 22

IMG_1984

7th graders choose Earth Fair theme By Joshua Bassett The eighth annual Poultney Earth Fair is going to be different […]

Northshire Freepress – 04/17/15

Lakes Classifieds – 04/17/15

North Country Freepress – 04/17/15

Weekender – 04/17/15

Classifieds 04/15/14

Golden Horde teams to grace hall of fame

1930 Football Team

By Derek Liebig A pair of fabled gridiron teams from Granville’s past will be enshrined in the Capital Region Football […]

Eleven petitions out for Whitehall Board of Education

Board of Ed 2014

By Dan King A tumultuous school year has prompted a record number of candidates to seek seats on the Whitehall […]

Fans fawn over Mick Foley

DSC_1051

By Dan King While his act in the ring may have been barbaric, the mood of Mick Foley’s meet-and-greet in […]

Hope Ludwig to have photo in Hyde Collection

Hope Ludwig Photo

By Derek Liebig An aspiring young photographer from Granville is among a select group of high school students who will […]

Granville tennis opens with win

Granville’s tennis team opened its season Monday afternoon with a win over Whitehall. The Horde swept both doubles matches and […]

New beverage store taking shape

Beverage Store Photo

By Joshua Bassett Lori Linendoll, a co-owner of The Beverage Warehouse, walked through the building, stepping around paint canisters and […]