Snow Hill Proceeds With Scaled-Down Repairs To Black-Eyed Susan
Snow Hill officials have narrowly voted to approve a scaled-down repair plan for The Black-Eyed Susan to get the vessel floating on the Pocomoke River again. The town will also continue to look for funding sources to pay for the level of repairs that would be needed to get the riverboat into full service.
A Coast Guard inspection of The Black-Eyed Susan, which is required every few years, turned up issues that would require hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs.
According to Snow Hill Town Manager Rick Pollitt, the 2-1 vote Tuesday authorizes the town to proceed with temporary repairs to the hull and hydraulics system costing about $192,000. About $99,000 in expenses have been incurred to date.
“We’ll have it docked. We’ve got a brand new riverwalk park leading right to it,” Pollitt told WGMD News. “It adds a lot to the ambience of downtown Snow Hill. There’s a lot of support in the community as an economic engine, as a tourist attraction.”
The town purchased the BES in 2020 through a combination of grant and loan funds from Worcester County and the State of Maryland. Washington’s Inc. has been the operator, providing catered cruises along the Pocomoke River.
At the time of the purchase, the vessel was in year four of a five-year mandated U.S. Coast Guard inspection process. The inspection at Colonna’s Shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia in February revealed multiple issues. Full repairs would have cost an estimated $604,000, beyond the town’s budget.
The option of selling The Black-Eyed Susan was also considered. Washington’s Inc. has been released from the lease agreement.
Pollitt said the town continues to search for sources of more funding to pursue repairs that would allow the BES to cruise once again. In the meantime, he expected that The Black-Eyed Susan would be stationary this summer, but available for visitors.
“As Proprietress of Chanceford Hall, we are excited to have the Black-Eyed Susan return to her home on the Pocomoke River in Snow Hill. Seeing this vessel docked in our little town evokes momentous emotion and provides hope that Snow Hill will continue to prosper,” resident and business owner Shae Von Marsh said. “As a unique attraction, the Black-Eyed Susan increases visitors to our area on the Eastern Shore and we believe that as it grows in popularity and recognition, it will continue to help introduce new people to the charm that Snow Hill has to offer.”