BREWERTON - The Fort Brewerton Historical Society is trying to get the town of Hastings to do something about a boat storage and repair shop right behind the society’s site.
Society Board President Sharon BuMann said the business is located behind the Oliver Stevens Blockhouse site in Brewerton. Visitors to the blockhouse and fort earthworks run by the historical society have to walk through the business area that is filled with boats to get to another part of the historical society site that contains an old 18th century burial ground.
BuMann said this is a problem because she considers the business a junkyard. But Hastings officials say the owner of the business, Mike Gunther, is not violating any town laws or codes so there is nothing the town can do about it.
“He once had a travel trailer there filled with garbage,” BuMann said of the boat site. “He has a special use permit to repair boats, calling it storage. But it’s just a junk boatyard and it keeps getting bigger.”
BuMann said she has been trying for months to get the town to do something about this, but “the town doesn’t seem to be concerned. We are trying to make this site a destination for tourists and the town is not interested in that at all.”
Hastings Codes Enforcement Officer Mark Bombardo said there is no violation at the boat site so he cannot do anything. He said Gunther is following the regulations put forth by his special use permit.
“He is not out of line for what he is doing,” Bombardo said of Gunther and the boat business. “He is supposed to store and work on boats.”
BuMann said at one time, Gunther had some of his merchandise stored on the historical society property, but he did move it when told. Bombardo agreed that this statement is true.
BuMann said she hopes the town comes around and does something to make the site more presentable for visitors to the Oliver Stevens Blockhouse and the 18th century cemetery.
The historic site on U.S. 11 in Brewerton contains the Oliver Stevens Blockhouse museum, some original earthworks from Fort Brewerton, which was built by the British in 1759 and the old cemetery that contains remains of people who died at Fort Brewerton.