Questions about Keuka Maid's status surface again

Mary Perham

Just when they thought the boat was almost out of the water, Urbana town officials wondered out loud last Tuesday night where the Keuka Maid's new owner is.

Town Supervisor John Webster told the town board he has been unable to speak personally with Jeremy Fields for more than a month.

"And he hasn't paid the January rent, or December's for that matter," Webster told the board. "I left a message asking him, or a representative of his, to attend this meeting. Well, no one's here."

Fields, CEO of Fields Construction in Canandaigua, paid $26,000 for the once-popular tour boat during an auction last October.

By the terms of the sale, he was given a week to pull the boat on to shore or move her.

But at a special meeting with the town board held shortly after the auction, Fields said an inspection of the three-story pontoon boat by his marine construction firm showed the boat was in surprisingly good shape.

He said the state had approved the use of barges to lift the boat out for further critical inspection and received an extension on the deadline to move the boat.

In November, Fields met with the board and asked them to allow him to wait until Jan. 31 for a complete inspection of the hull.

He also agreed to pay $500 per month in rent.

Under the terms of the lease with the town, Fields will pay $5,000 every week the boat remains at dock if he did not meet the conditions of his agreement.

The Keuka Maid has been in troubled waters for years, after then-owner Robert Pfuntner was unable to have the boat inspected for potential safety issues.

Those issues led to years of court battles, and a ruling last August the boat was a squatter and had to be moved. At the same time, the Keuka Maid was seized, along with other Pfuntner property, and put up for auction.

Webster said he would try to reach Fields again, but warned the board they may need to meet again at the end of the month.

"This may go right down to the wire on this one," Webster said.

Fields could not be reached for comment.