Leonardtown To Further Analyze Potential Paddlewheel Boat Purchase

Photo Credit: Black-Eyed Susan via Facebook

LEONARDTOWN, Md. — The Black-Eyed Susan, a 111-foot authentic paddlewheel boat which is currently docked in Harford County, has been occupying the minds of the Leonardtown Town Council for some time now.

The boat was listed for sale, with a relatively hefty price tag of $322,000, but at their special July 24 meeting, the council took additional steps towards taking ownership of the vessel. Looking at the potential draw to tourism in the town and St. Mary’s County, all of the council members and the St. Mary's County Department of Economic Development supported moving closer to a final purchase.

The town indicated that while they would own the boat, they would likely need to outsource an organization to promote and operate the attraction. Additionally, having it docked in Leonardtown would add jobs and one more event venue in the county.

Photo Credit: Black-Eyed Susan via Facebook

With the steps taken at the meeting, council members emphasized that they still had more “due diligence” to do on behalf of the town in undertaking such a purchase. Eventually, the board unanimously moved to create a committee that will look deeply into the costs and potential benefits of the boat before finalizing any purchase.

However, some council members were still hesitant about moving forward.

“With everything going on right now, there is no doubt in my mind that it would be a great addition, and be a tremendous asset for the town,” Councilman Nick Colvin said, before voting to move forward. “With the pandemic going on, we don't know where we are going to be at six-months from now, a year from now, we very much could still be in the thick of this going into next year. I personally think maybe [purchasing this boat] should not be on the top list of our priorities right now.”

Leonardtown would reap some benefits from the state in making the purchase. Thanks to a $100,000 grant that the town secured earlier this month, which is only good until September, they would need to front significantly smaller deposit, and then take out a loan on the remaining $190,000.

Councilman Jay Mattingly also had some reservations in making sure that the decision is well-vetted before approving it.

“As long as everyone knows that again, this is not the final deal. We are getting our deposit back if this does not work,” Mattingly said at the meeting. “I’m hesitant over this as well, but I am trying to stay open-minded. Let’s get the facts, [and] do the homework before we make a final decision.”

The town is expecting to complete its work to finalize a decision in the next month.

Photo Credit: Black-Eyed Susan via Facebook

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