Balto. Co. `boatel' to open in May

Norman Creek facility will store pleasure craft

March 08, 2004|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

A $3 million, state-of-the-art pleasure boat storage facility is being built in a marina on Norman Creek in eastern Baltimore County in preparation for a scheduled opening in May.

The three-level "boatel" will occupy more than an acre at Sunset Harbor Marina and will have the capacity to store craft up to 40 feet long, said marina co-owner John Polek, who is also president of the Baltimore County Marine Trades Association. Polek said the facility is the first of its kind in Baltimore County.

"We expect this new facility to attract new boaters to the Middle River," he said.

He said the project underscores the economic growth along the 175-mile Baltimore County waterfront, which includes Dundalk, Essex and Middle River.

"A rising tide lifts all boats," said William Jones, waterfront development coordinator for Baltimore County. "With everything else happening along the water, marina owners like John Polek are upgrading with floating piers, larger slips and other improvements. This shows the growing confidence on the eastern end of the county."

Polek said there are more than 60 marinas and other docking facilities in the county, and the boating industry - excluding boat sales - represents more than $130 million in economic impact in the county, according to figures from 2000.

Annual storage fees will range from $80 to $85 a foot, he said.

The boatel will include fire sprinklers, theft alarms with secure access.

The biggest feature, Polek said, will be a 22,200-pound forklift that will handle boats up to 40 feet in length. That lift will service year-round a 62,000 square-foot building and an indoor winter storage area.

A sizable part of the investment was dedicated to the forklift, which cost about $180,000, and to repairing and strengthening the marina's bulkhead.

"We will be able to pluck boats up and into the water on a daily basis for owners with no trouble," Polek said. Facilities with similar capacities are in Cecil County and Baltimore, he said.

He said his marina is an ideal location for such a facility because it is just off Middle River - which he described as the second-most-heavily trafficked river in the state, behind the Severn River.

One benefit of Polek's facility will be the end of so-called shrink wrap - the plastic cocoons that owners put their craft in during the winter - at Sunset Harbor.

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