By Sharon Turano
NORTH HARMONY - When the bicentennial of the Stow Ferry is celebrated next summer, officials are hoping a new pipe will be installed to help filter out a smell in the "dead water" area near the town.
Bicentennial organizers visited a Monday town board meeting to discuss plans for the bicentennial of the ferry, along with concerns about the smell.
In 1811, Thomas Beemus established a rough-hewn log raft after needing to transfer materials and livestock between properties he owned on the two sides of Chautauqua Lake. Others came to him for help, so he decided to turn the vessel into a business, reports Art Thomas about the history of the ferry. A license was granted to Beemus.
"He did it because first the Beemus's needed it and then everybody else needed it," Thomas said. He said people no longer need the ferry for vehicular traffic but it has been kept up for nostalgia, along with transporting pedestrians, animals and others.
"It's a piece of our history," he said, adding it is the only thing on the lake that has historic value. He said others are reproductions.
"Nostalgia keeps it going," said Thomas. A steel cable was first used in 1898 for the ferry, reports the town's Web site, adding that in 1907 Alton Ball used a shore-based engine. The Sea Lion Limited Project now operates the ferry.
Operators visited Monday's town meeting and reported that in 2007, 1,800 pedestrians used the ferry, along with 400 bikes and 1,620 cars in the 240 hours it was in operated. In 2009, 3,000 pedestrians used it, as did 2,000 cars and 485 bikes. Motorcycles, animals, horses, tandem bikes and golf carts were also carried across the lake.
The bicentennial is being planned for July 9-11, 2011, and organizers want to commemorate the ferry with events such as a dance, fireworks, airplane fly-over, Boy Scout jamboree, car show, concert and more.
Board members later voted to ask the state Department of Environmental Conservation to install the pipeline. Other improvements are also expected to be made to the ferry after a $250,000 grant was received to allow for new ramps, landings and more. Bids for who will do the work are expected to be decided in January, with work to begin after Labor Day.
Town officials also approved the 2010 town budget, which carries a $2.39 per thousand of assessed valuation tax rate. Appropriations stand at $670,134, while revenues total $265,150. A $221,772 fund balance exists, leaving $183,212 to be raised by taxes.
In other news:
Town officials authorized contributions to the county's defense of an assessment suit being brought by Norris Pipeline.
Approved the Lakefront Waterfront Revitalization Program.
Reported the Planning Board will look into Goose Creek Corp.'s request for town approval for lots, which do not conform to standard sizes. A representative from the Loomis Bay Community Association was also at the meeting to voice concern about road maintenance issues there. Town Supervisor Sally Carson said she does not believe the roads are owned by the town and is concerned by maintaining them the town would set precedent for doing so on other privately-owned roads. The matter is expected to be further discussed.
Increased grave site fees to $500 for residents and $650 for non-residents.