The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 22, 2013

Selinsgrove boat launch repairs in limbo

By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item

— SELINSGROVE — Frustration is mounting as a third boating season approaches without state approval to repair the Isle of Que boat ramp.

“It’s a shame that we can’t use such a nice facility,” said Freeburg resident William Yingling, after spending a morning fishing on the river Monday.

The South Front Street boat launch was built in 2008 with the aid of an $88,000 grant awarded to the borough of Selinsgrove by the state Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, but it was shut down less than three years later following an inspection that determined the ramp failed to meet state requirements and posed a safety hazard.

Since then, the state Department of Environmental Protection stepped in and informed the borough that permits would have to be obtained before any repair work could begin.

Assistant Borough Manager Sheri Badman said the Fish and Boat Commission has given the municipality $40,000 to make the repairs, but the Borough Council is waiting for DEP to issue permits allowing it to work on the ramp and landing before putting the project out for bid.

“We’re hopeful the work will be done this year,” council member Shane Hendricks said.

That’s been wishful thinking for the past few years, and river enthusiasts like Yingling and James Charles, of the Isle of Que, are fed up.

“It’s terribly frustrating that we still don’t have a boat launch,” said Charles, who served on the boat launch committee for several years and has been an active proponent of river use by the public. “If we don’t involve the public and make them aware of this resource, it will be lost.”

During the three years the ramp was accessible to boaters, Charles said, it was used daily year-round.

Yingling said he doesn’t understand why, after three years, the commission shut it down.

“We’ve used it for years, and I don’t know of one accident,” he said, adding that the Fish and Boat Commission has not replied to any of his inquiries on the issue. “It makes no sense to us common people who want to use the ramp.”

Charles, a retired banker and co-owner of Isle of Que River Guides, said the delay in reopening the boat launch is standing in the way of plans to spruce up the riverfront with an educational pavilion, indoor restroom, picnic area and stone terrace overlooking the riverbank.

“There is a tremendous vision, but my fear is the council will be so soured with this whole fiasco they won’t want to invest any more money,” he said.