STEAMBURG - Regardless of colder-than-average spring temperatures and rainy conditions, the Onoville Marina officially opened May 2. The marina, located south of Steamburg on the Allegheny Reservoir, always opens the first Friday in May - barring severe flooding or very low water levels.
Amy Bragg, assistant recreation area manager, said the boats are trickling in. Two large boats came in late April and five came in on May 1 to wait for the opening of the marina.
"The spring weather has been so cold and miserable that many people haven't pulled their boats out of storage yet and it has put boaters behind," she said. "I've had a couple of campers say they are going to wait until (this) weekend when the weather is supposed to be warmer."
The Onoville Marina, located on the Allegheny Reservoir, opened on schedule May 2, but colder-than-average spring temperatures delayed some boaters’ plans to launch their watercraft. Pictured is an unidentified lone boater braving the cool temperatures and cold water.
Photo by Deb Everts
Last year's opening weekend was much the same with unseasonably cold weather and, according to Bragg, there was snow on the docks May 13. She said there was less of a snow pack this year, but the ice on the reservoir held on for a very long time and the marina ended up with some dock damage from that ice.
According to Bragg, the ice damage occurred in late March, during the area's last snowfall. She explained how the docks at the marina sit in the mud, on the bottom of the of the riverbed, all winter when the water level is very low. When the engineers brought the water up in the spring, it came up too quickly and damaged a lot of those docks.
"The winds from the last snowstorm pushed the ice, which was locked-in with the docks, all in one direction," she said. "It sheared cables and pulled one of the winches off a dock, which we lost in the water and had to fish out. We hooked the docks to the shore on May 1, and the last one got repaired on May 2, so everything is up and running."
As far as the water level goes, Bragg said it's currently about a foot over "summer pool," about where they'd like to keep it all the way through September. She explained that summer pool is the normal water level where the Army Corps of Engineers like to keep it, which is 1,329.1 feet above sea level and ideal for launching boats.
She noted that the last dock space was sold April 30. The marina starts taking reservations on Jan. 1 every year. People from the previous year must have their deposits for the docks in by the end of February. During the first part of March, reservations are opened up to the public and they assign the docks to any new people coming in.
"I started taking reservations for camping on Jan. 2 and within seven days, July and August were sold out," she said. "During those months, the camping week runs Friday to Friday. Camping begins as soon as the marina opens and the boats come in to dock."
Bragg said the marina is kept open through the second weekend after Labor Day, as long as there is enough water. It all depends on the water levels. If it's a dry summer and the water levels are low, the marina must close early. If the boats have to be out, then the campground also closes.
Improvements to the marina park have been slow to progress. Bragg said a concrete stage - mainly for Onofest - is still a thought for the future, but it has been put on the "back burner" for now. It was determined that the initial stage wasn't going to be big enough and, at the time, some cable repairs on the docks took precedence over that project.
"We have the building prepped, so in the future, all we really have to do is pour the concrete and put up a roof," she said. "People can pay to have somebody come down to the marina to entertain, if they wish, but it's not something that the county's going to furnish. With the exception of OnoFest, which the county does take care of, it's pretty much up to the campers and boaters to plan and set up their own music entertainment."
Other summer activities include the upcoming seventh annual OnoFest 2014 scheduled for Saturday, July 26, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. It includes live music, food and craft vendors, RVs and boats on display, exhibits, activities and fireworks. Admission for this outdoor event is $5 per car load.
The Onoville Marina Park is operated by the Cattaraugus County Department of Public Works and is located, south of Steamburg, at 704 W. Perimeter Road.
For more information, call 354-2615, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit online at onovillemarina.org.