SNOW HILL– The Black-Eyed Susan left Snow Hill for Taylor’s Island late last week.
Slaughter Creek Marina purchased the Black-Eyed Susan, the Town of Snow Hill’s riverboat, for $24,800. The boat left its dock at Sturgis Park Nov. 15.
“It’s a bittersweet time in that so many held high hopes that the Black-Eyed Susan would be a tremendous tourist attraction and economic engine while others thought the town should never have been in the boat business at all,” Town Manager Rick Pollitt said. “Our intent now is to move forward to implement Mayor Pruitt’s agenda to shore up and improve the town’s aging infrastructure, support the police and fire departments and deliver the services people expect from town hall.”
The town purchased the Black-Eyed Susan, a 149-passenger riverboat, in 2020 with the help of a loan from Worcester County. The boat had a successful season running up and down the Pocomoke River in 2021 but a mandatory inspection in 2022, however, revealed that the vessel needed extensive repairs in order to resume cruises. The inspection revealed numerous repairs, estimated at $600,000, were needed. As a result, the Black-Eyed Susan was docked.
After issuing a request for proposals in September, the town received three bids for the boat. The River House Inn’s Henry Wright, interested in making the boat an entertainment venue, bid $75,000 while Bay Coastal Contracting bid $20,000 and Slaughter Creek Marina bid $24,800.
While the council awarded the bid to the owners of the River House Inn, asked to withdraw their bid.
“Once the owners investigated all the hurdles they would need to overcome, including local zoning that did not allow their proposed use, State Department of Natural Resources and Department of the Environment issues, State Critical Areas regulations and Worcester County Health Department, Liquor Licensing and Fire Marshall requirements, they felt the risks were too great to take a chance on buying the boat and not getting the needed approvals to fulfill their vision,” Pollitt said.
The council permitted Wright to withdraw his bid and the boat subsequently went to the next highest bidder, Slaughter Creek Marina of Taylor’s Island. The marina bid $24,800 for the boat and plans to dock the vessel at marina property and open a restaurant in it.
Pollitt said settlement was the beginning of last week and the boat left Snow Hill Wednesday.
Pollitt said the town would be repaying the loan from Worcester County with $25,000 a year for the next 12 years.