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The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • ‘Maid’ heads for the auction block

  • The Keuka Maid will be auctioned to the highest bidder on Oct. 22.

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  • The Keuka Maid will be auctioned to the highest bidder on Oct. 22.
    Brzostek’s Auction Service, Inc. of Phoenix, NY, intends to auction the tour boat and the restaurant equipment contents on it starting at 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 22, with a preview from 10-11 a.m. that day.
    The boat is moored at the dock owned by the Town of Urbana at the southern end of Keuka Lake.
    A spokesperson for Brzostek’s said Robert Pfuntner has made the arrangements for the auction.
    Urbana Town Supervisor John Webster says this could be good news for the town, which filed an eviction notice, but did not seize the boat.
    “No. Once we found out we’d have to pay insurance, it (seizure) didn’t seem like a good idea,” Webster said. “It would be difficult for us to get insurance for an abandoned boat that’s sunk more than a couple of times.”
    Webster said he did not know about the legality of Pfuntner auctioning off the Keuka Maid.
    “Our only concern is if there is space for us at the (financial) table,” he said.
    Webster said the town expects the boat to be auctioned as salvage and dismantled.
    The question, Webster said, is when the boat will be moved.
    “A day from the auction, two months from the auction?” Webster said.
    Webster said the Keuka Maid could be moved if it is registered as a private vessel and not public transport as it is now.
    The Keuka Maid has been at the center of multiple legal battles since 2006, when the three-story pontoon boat was ordered to stay in port due to federal marine safety standards enacted that year requiring the hull of the boat be inspected before it would be permitted to take on passengers.
    Efforts to inspect the boat failed, prompting disputes between Pfuntner and the Town of Urbana in Steuben, and the Town of Milo in Yates County.
    Unable to get permits to move the boat to property he owned in Milo, Pfuntner then ordered the boat to leave port in Hammondsport, allegedly intending to run it aground near the Yates property.
    Instead, the boat got stuck on a sandbar, too far from shore, and  Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike ordered the Keuka Maid back to Hammondsport.
    That excursion is what allowed the six-person jury to declare in late July the boat is a squatter, Webster said.
    The 100-ton, 107-foot-long Keuka Maid was registered to carry as many as 300 passengers. It also has a history of several sinkings near shore. The latest was in early August of this year.
    In September Town Justice Charles William Hewson upheld a unanimous jury verdict to evict the boat from the municipal-owned dock.
    Page 2 of 2 - In early August – while the eviction verdict was under review – foreclosure notices were filed by ACM Browncroft LLC and Chemung County, looking to recover more than $1.8 million in unpaid loans from Pfuntner for several properties in Chemung and Yates Counties. The properties listed include the tour boat and several local radio stations, along with the former Sarrasin’s restaurant and a neighboring lot where developer Chrisanntha is planning to build a hotel and residential units in Penn Yan.
    The auction company’s press release says the boat can be restored, but it must be moved.
    Included in the Oct. 22 sale will be a variety of restaurant equipment and furnishings.

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