BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Many boaters voiced their frustrations about new changes at the Erie Basin Marina on Saturday. They said they’re being nickel and dimed by the new policies.
“I brought up all of my three children on the water. They were two days old. I’d like to try to stay here, but they’re making it unaffordable for all of us,” said John Cornell, the President of the Erie Basin Slip Renters Association.
The City of Buffalo owns the marina and Smith Boys operates it. They got the new contract in March after lawmakers cut ties with Brand-on Services.
Now that boaters have had a taste of how the new operator runs things, they don’t like how much slip rentals went up this year. However Brad Smith, the President of Smith Boys, said the rate stayed flat. He explained why some boaters had to pay more and others paid less. “The prior operator had some pricing irregularities that were corrected this year to be in line with the charter,” he said.
The rate increase won’t kick in until the 2015 boating season. The amount differs depending on whether or not the person lives in Buffalo. Many boaters are upset with how much the cost will increase over the next three years.
“We don’t have a problem with the rate increase, we know things go up, but we can’t double the rates in three years. That’s not fair to the slip runners here,” said Cornell.
For a non-city resident with a boat between 30 to 38 feet, the prices will double from $1,580 to $3,200.
“The prices haven’t been changed in many years and in order to financially stabilize the marina it was one of the things we thought was warranted,” said Steve Stepniak, Buffalo’s Public Works Commissioner.
Another issue of concern is the cost of a rental slip for a boat over 38 feet. Patrons used to be charged $50 for each foot over 38. Therefore if a boater had a 40 foot slip they would pay an extra $100. The cost has increased to$50 per foot so a boater with that same 40 foot boat will now pay $2,000.
“The city charter was very specific for rates up to 38 feet. What the issue is goes back to the prior operator, they did not necessarily follow the charter and now we are trying to follow the charter,” said Smith.
Going forward, members from the Erie Basin Marina Slip Renters Association will form a committee and meet with city officials and Smith Boys to address any issues and find ways to solve them.
“We’ll meet regularly to go over these issues so they can get better feedback,” said Stepniak.