The Carriers’ Association estimates that a vessel generates $800,000 in economic activity in the community in which it winters. Craine said he would like to put two freighters at the CSX Railroad dock and two at the Pinney Dock in the Ashtabula River. That would bring in $3.2 million in a matter of a couple months.
Ashtabula City Manager James Timonere said the city is interested in attracting this industry, but in the seven years he’s been involved in economic development in Ashtabula, there has been only one inquiry from a fleet owner.
“We’d love to get it back, especially now that the channel has been dredged,” Timonere said. “The question is how much more capacity c an the market support and is this an area where we can help them out?”
Pinney Dock, owned by Kinder Morgan, owns the majority of the dock spaces that could be used for this kind of work. Joe Hollier, manager of corporate communications for Kinder Morgan, said vessel repair and maintenance are beyond the scope of the company’s Ashtabula operation.
“(Pinney Dock) is a bulk facility,” Hollier said. “It’s not in any way, shape or form the type of dock that would be able to handle that kind of repair work.
“There is so much that would have to be done, and it’s not part of our business,” he added.
Craine said his company would bring in all necessary equipment. “All I need is (electrical power) from shore, and I would hope the city would help me with that,” he said.
Historically, having a shipbuilder on the river was the key to Ashtabula attracting vessels for winter lay-up. Glenn Beagle, assistant director of the Ashtabula Maritime and Surface Transportation Museum, said that Great Lakes Engineering Works, which was located up river from the lift bridge, was the major player. Geary Boiler Works also operated on the river. However, as the vessels got longer, they could no longer negotiate the curve in the river and therefore could not reach the Great Lakes Engineering shipyard.