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North East PA Borough receives new authority to manage North East Marina

North East PA Borough receives new authority to manage North East Marina

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North East Borough is one step closer to ensuring that the North East Marina is owned and operated by a local government rather than the state.

The Borough Council on Monday selected five people to serve on the newly formed North East Community Marina Authority.

The authority plans to negotiate with the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission to transfer ownership of the North East Marina, located at 11950 East Lake Road.

Of the nine candidates, the City Council voted and selected the following individuals to serve on the Authority Board, with terms ranging from one to five years:

  • Eric Urbanowicz for a one-year term;
  • Kara Haas for a two-year term;
  • Timothy Truitt for a three-year term;
  • Edward Mascharka for a four-year term; And
  • Amy Burniston for a five-year term.

Borough Manager Patrick Gehrlein said applicants had to be a resident of a borough or township or own a business in the borough or township.

“I don’t think there are many people who have a lot of experience as a marina board member — no one really does,” Gehrlein said. “(The council) took their life experiences and determined if they were a good fit for the board.”

Articles of association filed

While the authority was sitting, Gehrlein said the council filed bylaws with the Pennsylvania Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth on Tuesday.

Gehrlein said once the authority is approved by the state, it will begin the negotiation process with the Fish and Boat Commission.

The Fish & Boat Commission was willing to work with the community to transfer the property and possibly provide start-up funds for the authority.

“I am sure that with the transfer, this authority will discover many details and hopefully gain a good understanding of this parcel and what the challenges and opportunities are,” said Gehrlein.

Why does the municipality want an authority?

State Rep. Jake Banta, R-4th Dist., and resident Dan Adamus, trustee of the North East Community Foundation and member of the Fuller Hose Co., began their efforts to save the marina in 2023 after the Fish & Boat Commission announced that it would close the private boat ramps for the 2024 boating season.

The Fish & Boat Commission chose to close the private boat ramps due to new dredging requirements that increased the cost of annual maintenance, as well as the cost of moving sand from the west side of the marina basin to the east side to prevent erosion along the coast. These costs have made operating the marina — the only one in the entire state under the authority of the Fish & Boat Commission — a financial burden for the state agency. Another issue was the discovery of unsafe electrical lines on the docks and the potential costs associated with a utility overhaul.

Officials have been in discussions for months about forming an authority to take over the North East Marina, hoping not only to return it to its previous level of use but also to help the 17-acre property reach its potential.

An authority, proponents have argued, would protect taxpayers from any financial liability, including taxes.

AJ Rao can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on X @ETNRao.