Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Marina heads for renovation

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] A rendering of plans for Four Seasons Marina along the Ohio River.
EAST END - For the first time since opening in 1964, the Four Seasons Marina along the Ohio River is shutting down over the winter so its headboat can get a new hull and look.

The headboat is a main floating dock facility, or a long, flat barge. At Four Seasons, it holds two restaurants, a shop, marina office, laundry and other facilities.

On Tuesday, it headed about 146 miles up the Ohio River to a South Point, Ohio, river barge company so its hull could be replated. It will be sandblasted and new steel plates will be welded on.

The exterior will then undergo cosmetic changes when it returns to the East End, expected in February, said Mark Hemsath, the marina's assistant manager.

"It will be a fresh new look," Hemsath said. "This is going to give our boaters something to look forward to."

The hull of the headboat, which is 52 feet wide by 260 feet long, hasn't been replated since it was built - originally as a car ferry - in the mid-1950s, he said.

Hemsath said the hull replacement and renovations of the headboat will cost less than $1 million. New ones could cost $3 million to $4 million.

All the boats stored at the marina had to be moved by Nov. 15. Typically, the marina stores close to its 500-boat capacity in the summer and 120 to 150 year-round.

Hemsath expects them to return May 1, when the marina will reopen for the summer.

"Wintertime was the only time we could do this to least impact business," he said. "We feel pretty confident they will return, especially with all the new changes we have in store for them."

Don White of Montgomery has stored his vessel at the marina during the summer since 1965. He was enthusiastic Tuesday about the renovations.

"It should make the facilities better," White, 68, said. "I'll be back. In my opinion, it's the best harbor around in this area."


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