UPDATED: "Albatross" Removal Agreement Reached; Could Spur New Riverfront Development

Updated 6 years ago by Tony Rutherford, Editor

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams had told a work session of Huntington City Council that an agreement has been reached with Superior Marine which will "remove the barge and docks" from the riverfront.

The City has been negotiating under emergency conditions since the barge which once hosted Holderbys Landing began sinking, which lead to city public works employees pumping water to keep  it afloat and eventually a contract with a construction firm to maintain the hazardous vessel.

Under an agreement reached with David Duffield, whom Williams described as a "true partner," the barge and docks will be removed before the cold fall rainy season.

"We can't do snap finger" removal but there's an "urgency" to complete the project before cold wet weather arrives.

Williams said that ten houseboats that can not be easily floated elsewhere will be stored through the winter in a secure location at the upper east end parking lot of Harris Riverfront Park.  The owners will not be charged.

Meanwhile, Superior Marine will remove the barge, docks, power lines, and hook ups. "There will be nothing left at the riverfront" once completed Williams said. Superior Marine will not charge the city for the work; they will take possession of the crippled barge.

The Mayor has not yet indicated if any additional expenses will be incurred by the city related to the removal.

Former city councilman Tom McCallister has questioned aspects of the deal and whether city council approval would be necessary. The Mayor can spent up to $15,000 without council approval. McCallister mentioned a 'bid' for services --- but apparently Superior receives the barge which itself must be towed in exchange for all clearing work.

McCallister maintains that the contact with Duffield was from the start invalid so negotiations were unnecessary.

Councilman Gary Bunn applauded the Mayor's efforts. Bunn had previously referred to the vessel as a costly albatross for the city.

"We are getting rid of a problem," Williams said.

Once removed, the city plans to solicit plans for a riverfront redevelopment plan.

For previous story click, http://www.huntingtonnews.net/69553

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