Ice boom delay could cost businesses thousands of dollars

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The chilly start to spring is putting a costly delay on industries that depend on warmer weather.

The Maid of the Mist started its season on April 19th last year, but it doesn’t look like the popular attraction will come close to setting sail that early this year. The slow start to spring is also troublesome down at Buffalo’s harbor.

“Within a 50 mile radius of Buffalo, New York is the best freshwater fishing in the country,” said Jim Hanley, owner of Jim Hanley’s Fishing Charters.

With ice still sitting on Lake Erie, Hanley says the season that starts on May 3rd could be compromised.

“For the charters that run out of Buffalo you’re talking about $38,000-per-day that’s a loss after May 3rd if the ice boom isn’t taken out.”

According to the Army Corps of Engineers, the ice boom will probably be taken out by the end of April. Even after the ice boom is removed, boats are still about a week out from hitting the water.

“We need a Southwest wind to clear all the debris, floating logs, and all kinds of stuff that’s floating around to clear and be washed up on the shores because if we go out in our boats right after the ice is gone, we have a good chance of hitting something and ruining our boats,” said Hanley.

He’s already had to cancel the first week of the season so far. It’s cost him around $5,000. He says charters aren’t the only ones impacted.

“If you take in all the meals that not only our customers eat, but all those coming out-of-town you’re, talking about 600-700 meals per day that are lost for every day we can’t get out on the lake,” said Hanley.

One of the restaurants that feels that hit is Doug’s Dive.

“Over a third of our business comes from the over 1,000 slip holders that are here. So we have a thousand boats that come into the water here, so that’s great to have a bunch of neighbors like that,” said Tucker Curtain, owner of Dug’s Dive.

The harsh winter forced Doug’s Dive to open a month later than originally planned. For people whose businesses don’t operate year round, every missed day of work means money down the drain.

“If you put it over a 10-day period, if it stretches into the season that far, you’re talking about $400,000 in loss, that’s just from the charter captains alone,” said Hanley.

The Army Corps of Engineers will be launching an ice flight next Tuesday to measure the depth of the ice. There will have to be 250 square miles or less of ice in order to pull the boom. They’ll delay taking it out if it’s still thick.

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