UNIONTOWN – Fayette County will seek proposals on future ownership of idled ferryboat Frederick on the Monongahela River to the disappointment of those who want to preserve the relic along the Washington County riverbank.
Fayette commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to advertise for proposals to dispose of the ferry, leaving open the possibility it might be sold for scrap steel or floated to another community to become a tourist attraction.
“I’m not surprised at this point,” said Fredericktown businessman Dennis Slagle, who, along with East Bethelehem Township supervisors, are seeking the vessel in a donation to the town sharing its name. “That was their opinion a week ago.”
Fayette, which operated the ferry under a budget shared with Washington County, permanently closed the ferry Aug. 28 because it was losing traffic and money to a new, nearby Mon-Fayette Expressway bridge.
Slagle attended the Fayette commissioners’ meeting with East Beth supervisor Paul Battaglini and township solicitor Lane Turturice to make a public pitch for donating the ferry to Fredericktown to be the centerpiece of a proposed museum.
“It’s very important for our community and we would like to commemorate it, make it part of the local history,” Turturice said.
Commissioner Vince Zapotosky replied, saying he spoke to people in Fredericktown about the museum, and that Fayette needs to include Washington County commissioners in that discussion.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” Zapotosky said.
Earlier, Fayette commissioner Angela Zimmerlink said Washington County shared the cost of purchasing the ferry and would likely need to also approve of any plan to donate or sell the vessel built in 1948.
The East Beth representatives left the meeting early assuming their plan would move forward, as Fayette’s solicitor was instructed to meet with Washington County about the donation request.
When the ferry came up on the agenda, commission Chairman Al Ambrosini said he wanted to offer the ferry for other proposals on ownership, and the three-member board agreed, Zimmerlink said.
Zimmerlink said she was unaware of any other proposals for the ferry, that a vote on its fate likely would take place Oct. 15.
Meanwhile, Slagle said it would take a lot of effort and money to prepare the 35-ton ferry for a scrap yard, and it would be worth just $7,000 for the weight of its steel. He said East Beth will move forward with preparing a formal proposal to present to Fayette.
Washington County commissioners have taken no action on the ferry to date.
“We’ve been waiting to see what the final recommendation was,” Washington County Commission Chairman Larry Maggi said Tuesday.
“We’re going to be open to anything that would benefit that community down there and to ease the pain of losing the ferry,” Maggi said.
Staff writer Barbara S. Miller contributed to this story.