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City business owner alleges city marina’s low pricing is undercutting revenue

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The rates are too low according to one city business owner who hopes to see the Ogdensburg City Council increase how much it charges boaters who dock at the municipal marina.

Gilbert J. Jones, owner of River Front Marina at the mouth of the Oswegatchie, said the city is “totally in left field” regarding how much it charges boaters and making it tough for businesses to compete.

“They are operating for half the price they should be charging,” he said.

Speaking at Monday’s city council meeting Recreation Director Matthew Curatolo said the rates at the marina are not significantly lower than other places.

Currently the going rate to store a boat at the municipal marina for the boating season is $27 per foot for no-power and $33 per foot for power, Mr. Curatolo said.

Mr. Curatolo added that according to his research the price range in this area for docking runs from $24 per foot to $60.

Currently the marina is pulling in an estimated $30,000 per year for the city, Mr. Curatolo said.

But River Front Marina Manager Theodore P. Zoli, who was representing Mr. Jones at Monday’s meeting, said marinas in Brockville, Prescott and Alexandria Bay are all charging anywhere from $45 to $85 per foot.

“If you had a private business in town the last thing you want is for a municipality to be in competition with you,” Mr. Zoli said.

“They are undercutting the market,” he said of the city’s pricing.

Mr. Zoli said the city’s low prices have forced River Front to keep their prices lower than they would like, charging $28 per foot for no-power and $34 per foot for power.

“The rates are too cheap to survive,” he said.

Mr. Jones and Mr. Zoli said they hope to see the city significantly increase what it charges boaters who take advantage of the municipal marina.

“We can [charge more than the city] but we’d just lose a lot of business,” Mr. Zoli said. “People are willing to pay more than [the current price]. It doesn’t make sense to charge less than people are willing to pay.”

The city council did not move to increase prices at Monday’s meeting but Councilor Jennifer Stevenson asked Mr. Curatolo to do more research on what other marinas up and down the St. Lawrence River charge.

Ms. Stevenson said over the coming months Mr. Curatolo, the recreation commission and city council will review the rates.

“We do this every year,” she added.

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