A regional asset may be in danger of capsizing.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) has already said the docks at the North East Marina will no longer have electricity, but now, many fear the marina won’t be able to stay afloat.
For decades, the North East Marina has been the summer home to hundreds of boats and visitors, but the regional asset might be in jeopardy and that has a lot of people worried.
Some 200-plus slip users may not be permitted to dock in the marina this year, not to mention the hundreds that launch their boats every day throughout the summer.
“I mean those are second homes for some people. They’re camps for some people. They come here, they spend money, they go to the local storefronts and they stay here in local motels and Airbnbs,” said Fredrick “Fritzer” Shunk, North East Township supervisor.
The PFBC has managed the marina since the early ’90s, but changes in policy by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) might prevent it from opening.
A former manager of the marina said that he has long-term concerns about the marina’s future. That’s because each spring, the marina is dredged, cleaned of hazards and filled to ensure a minimum 5-foot water depth.
“How they dredge is not in compliance with DEP requirements from what I understand, so it calls into question whether the viability of the marina is going to be there in the next few years or not,” said Robert Mazza, former concessionaire manager.
Mazza is also concerned about maintenance at the marina — citing break wall deterioration and the need for an entirely new electrical system. According to the PFBC, a new electrical system would cost about $15 million.
“I mean even our local fire department has spent the last five years getting their program up and running with a rescue boat where they help the Coast Guard out tremendously. Where are we going to keep it now?” Shunk said.
In the short term, locals are trying to rally the support of local lawmakers to find a way to work with the DEP to at least open to the public this year.