Lansing at Large: Ford family plans to grow Myers marina operation

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By Matt Montague

 

Finger Lakes Marine Service, the marina at Myers across from the park, started with a dream from the other side of the lake.

In the early 1950s, Leon Ford was the head caretaker at Taughannock Falls State Park. He did a lot of boat work on the side and when he looked across the lake at the swampy land on the south side of Myers Point, he saw a marina.

He and his wife Louise bought the land from Bob Angel and started digging in 1954. Leon died before it was done but Louise carried on, completing the marina in 1955.

Louise ran the marina for the next 60 years before turning the operation over to her son Barry Ford three years ago. (Louise will be 99 on her next birthday, by the way.)

“It’s a lot of work,” Barry said. “A typical day here starts at about 7:30 a.m. when I make everything ready – get the gas pumps on, open the cash register, and open the back shop for the mechanics. We do a parts and tools inventory and then, around 8:30, we get to work.”

The marina is more than just docks and a gas pump – the staff sells parts and marine supplies, they service engines and hulls and do canvas work. “If we can’t do it, we will find a company or an individual that can,” Barry said. They’ve repaired antique outboard motors and even fabricated a wooden sailboat mast in the shop.

Barry does not do this alone; His wife Carrie, daughters Katie and Sarah, and sons Andrew, Chase, and Cameron all work around the marina.

And, in line with the family history, Barry has plans for the marina itself. First, they plan to deepen the pond to around 8 feet for the deeper-keeled sailboats. The marina will add a new service center, a park for RV camping, and a new launching ramp for outboard boats, and install a new electrical system throughout.

Barry will actually remove some of the slips but is adding a “call and go” service where boat owners keep their craft ashore until they are ready to use them. The marina will launch the boats from trailers or forklift them into the water on demand.

And, he is adding a “pontoon boat only” area where the marina owns docks on the south side of the Myers Park marina. These will “nose in” moorings where boat owners will step from the shore on to the bow of their boat, untie from a series of piers set in the water, and motor off.

Pontoon boats are the only category where sales are growing, according to Barry. Sailboats sales are down 12 to 15 percent and general powerboats are down four to six percent. Barry said that operating costs are the cause.

“Some of the big cruisers never go out all summer. People use them like cottages – they have a beautiful view, and there is swimming and activities at the park.”

Still, there are 45 boats waiting for their spot at the marina.

One less evident improvement is the elimination of the “junk boats” once scattered around the yard. “We had the motors and fuel tanks recycled, the hulls smashed up and hauled away, and the fuel leaks in the ground under the boats cleaned up.”

Another clean-up Barry has in mind involves sewage. He is working on a small batch sewage treatment plant to serve the marina, Myers Park, and some of the houses along the south side of Myers Point. “It would be a self-contained recycling system,” he said.

“It’s a lot of work,” Barry said. “But I enjoy the work. It’s my family’s legacy and I promised my mother I would keep it going as long as I can.”

Barry expects to begin the work as the boating season winds down in the fall and continue through the winter, weather permitting. The majority of the work should be done by spring before the marina opens again. Barry has coffee and donuts on the front porch of the main building Saturday and Sunday mornings. If you stop by, he will tell you all about it.

 

Music in the Park

Iron Horse returns to Myers Aug. 16 to wrap up the 2018 season. The band lineup is Lansing’s own Mark Armstrong (lead singer), Shawn Manning (lead guitar, vocalist), Steve Peck (drummer, vocalist), and Ron Brock (bass, vocalist).

Mega Moos ice cream truck will return to welcome MoMo’s Traveling Café and the new Salt Point Brewery Company to the park. The music begins at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free but donations are greatly appreciated.

 

Lighthouse 5K

The Lighthouse 5K, an annual fundraiser for Lansing’s cross country teams, will be run Aug. 18 in Myers Park. A one-mile “fun run” will start at 8:30 a.m., the main race will begin at 9 a.m. The Lighthouse 5K is the first leg of the “Triple Town Grand Prix” involving races in Groton (Aug. 26) and Dryden (Sept. 3). Entry is $22; you can learn more at lansinglighthouse5k.weebly.com.

Please send your story ideas and event notifications to lansingatlarge@gmail.com.

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