Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Dock Expansion Project
Sept. 6, 2003
On September 6, Middle Bass broke ground on a $1 million expansion of its main dock.
Our Ninth District Congresswoman, Marcy Kaptur, and State Representative, Chris Redfern, were present with 150 islanders at the Saturday morning celebration near the current Middle Bass dock. The dock faces the channel between Put-in-Bay and Middle Bass. The planned expansion will run 150’ to the west of the present dock to a point in front of the middle of the defunct Lonz Winery. Its most exciting feature will be an arm that protrudes 100’ feet into the lake starting along the east end of the current dock. The arm will be long enough for Miller ferries to dock on either side depending on the direction of the wind. The current dock has no protection from strong east or west winds, and boats sometimes cannot land on Middle Bass because of them. The dock extension will solve that problem. It will also feature a new warehouse and passenger facility.
The Ohio Department of Transportation is funding the expansion through a grant from the Ferryboat Discretionary Fund. Put-in-Bay Port Authority chairman Terry Burns, Middle Bass representative Karl Schmidlin; and manager Monica Drake worked to secure the grant.
Jim Roesch, president of the Middle Bass Dock Company, spoke at the ceremony. He noted that the current dock is 80 years old, and the current directors and shareholders are descendants of the original owners. In addition to Jim, Sonny Schneider and John Schneider (both operators of the Sonny S), Joan Copeland, and John Engelsen are current directors and shareholders. Jim Roesch, John Copeland and John Engelsen are officers. Older islanders will remember the original owners: Charles Schneider, William Kuemmel, John and Frank Roesch, and Omri Webster. Jim mentioned all the different boats that had used the Middle Bass Dock during the 80 years, from the Chippewa to the various Miller boats.
Representative Kaptur said the dock project “will add another sapphire to the necklace that is the North Coast.” On a stunningly beautiful September morning, most people in the crowd agreed with her.
Dave Mackey of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources noted how much Middle Bass had changed. According to him, until about 150 years ago, the only Middle Bass resident was a woodchopper named Robert Black. In 1855, there were two houses about a mile apart. In 1857, commercial fishing began from the island. In 1863, Wehrle began pressing grapes to operate a winery. Even so, by 1888, there were still only 40-50 residents, excluding the members of the Middle Bass Club, which opened in 1874. Now, of course, Middle Bass has many houses and a brand new state park. A team from the State Park worked with the Middle Bass Dock Company to ensure that the new addition will be a welcoming gateway to the new park.
Dennis Fligor, a representative of Ohio Senator Voinevich, remembers coming to the dock three years ago to look it over. This year, he brought his own boat to the new Middle Bass State Park Marina.
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