Boaters question new operator of Small Boater Harbor

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The small boat harbor is a place where many people retreat to relax. Now that the marina has a new operator, boaters want to know if it’s in good hands.

Many went to a meeting Tuesday night to find out.

Longtime slipholder, Wayne Kay said,” I came in here kind of angry because of the rates being increased, and when I listen to him, it kind of all makes sense now as to why the rates are going up.”

Tennessee company, Safe Harbor Development signed a lease from the state. Now the 51-acre site is known as the Buffalo Harbor State Park Marina.

The lease states that Safe Harbor needs to invest $10 million in capital investments into the marina within the first five years.

That comes with higher slip rental rates of seven percent per year through 2019, then up to five percent per year after that.

The company will also have boaters pay for their own metered electricity.

Not everyone is pleased. Longtime slipholder Deborah Skulski said, “It’s going to be a seven percent increase every year, plus we’re going to pay for electricity. That might force us to look elsewhere, but for convenience purposes it’s close to South Buffalo, close to West Seneca and close to the other entities, the Small Boat Harbor is the place to be.”

Many boaters said they just want to see their money put to good use. “He was very candid and he was very open. He answered enough questions that I and other people had so I want to think that we’ve got to give him a chance,” Skulski said.

“I’m just excited to be in Buffalo. I think it’s a great community. The people have been wonderful so far. I think this is going to be a terrific facility when we get done,” Darby Campbell, the president of Safe Harbor Development said. “Water is magic. It’s going to be a great spot. It’s truly going to help with the transition of Buffalo going back to number one.”

Campbell said the first improvements to the marina will be smaller, like improving the landscaping, trash and carts.

All of the slips should be replaced by 2017. Also, parking and the restaurant will be redone. The docks will open this year on May 15.

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