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The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Keuka Maid ouster hits snag

  • The embattled Keuka Maid remains dead in the water, as legal decisions on the location of the once-popular tour boat shift continue.

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  • The embattled Keuka Maid remains dead in the water, as legal decisions on the location of the once-popular tour boat shift continue.
    Urbana Town Supervisor Gordy Lanphere said Tuesday night the town’s eviction proceedings against boat owner Robert Pfuntner have taken another twist in an ongoing dispute.
    Lanphere said the town has been told it must file actual trespassing charges against Pfuntner, since the original eviction notice mentioned trespass as one reason for legally forcing the boat out of its berth.
    The need for additional charges seemed to stun the town board, which has dealt with the issue for the past four years.
    “Why, why is (Pfuntner) doing this?” Councilman Paul Martuscello asked.
    “He’s stonewalling,” Lanphere said. “He’s trying to stop it. He feels this is to his benefit.”
    Pfuntner and the town have been at odds since the three-story pontoon boat was ordered to stay in port five years ago, due to federal marine safety standards enacted in 2006 requiring the hull of the boat be inspected before it takes on passengers.
    The standards were set when 20 passengers died after the one-story, 40-foot tour boat Ethan Allen capsized in Lake George in October 2005. Since then, the state's passenger limit was found to be excessive during stability testing conducted after capsizing.
    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.
    Unable to have his heavy boat inspected, Pfuntner has sued – and been sued, and appealed -- in two counties, during the past five years.
    His attempt to move the boat to the Penn Yan area was stopped by the threat of lawsuits by several towns in that region. In the spring of 2010, the Yates County court ruled Pfuntner could move his boat, but not to the location he wanted.
    Despite the Yates court order, Pfuntner hired a crew last November to pilot the Keuka Maid to his chosen location, but was forced to return her to dock in Hammondsport after it ran aground 50 feet from shore.
    After a number of unsuccessful attempts by the Urbana board to talk with Pfuntner about his plans for the boat, the town filed eviction proceedings in January and Pfuntner appealed.
    The town will now take another step toward evicting the derelict boat.
    “We’ll file trespassing charges,” Lanphere said.

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