Council hopes schooner makes Urbanna home port
by Tom Chillemi
Members of Urbanna Town Council are all aboard on a proposal to get the sailing schooner “Serenity” to dock at the Urbanna Town Marina at Upton’s Point on Urbanna Creek.
The couple that owns the schooner “Alliance,” which was docked in Urbanna for the Oyster Festival, also owns “Serenity,” a two-masted schooner. A few years ago “Serenity” was featured on the Oyster Festival poster as it sailed into Urbanna Creek under a full moon.
Town resident Gary Thimsen told council at its Nov. 17 meeting that he spoke to the owners of the boats about running tours aboard “Serenity” from Urbanna. “It would be a tremendous asset to Urbanna,” he said.
The 50-foot “Serenity” carries 34 passengers and is a replica of the type of schooners that hauled goods when water was the primary means of travel, said Thimsen. He told council that in colonial times plantations would have schooners in the 40 to 50 foot length range that would be used for travel, to haul freight and even dredge oysters.
Council directed council members Lee Chewning and Janet Smith to work on the details of getting “Serenity” to dock in Urbanna.
In other Council matters
J.D. Dodd, co-owner of Moo’s Diner in Urbanna, which burned on November 4, addressed those attending the council meeting about the support he has received from the community and elsewhere since the fire.
“We’re lucky to be in this community,” said Dodd.
Dodd said he is looking for a temporary location to open his ice cream and sandwich shop, but does not want to leave Urbanna. “You have such a great situation with unity and love in this town,” he said. “This town has fulfilled us.”
There were hugs and handshakes and a standing ovation when Dodd finished his address.
Mayor Beatrice Taylor responded, “We all do love you.”
At the work session on November 14, council member Bill Thrift said J.D. Dodd and his wife Moo are “well thought of” in the community for their generosity.
Thrift, who is chief of the Middlesex Volunteer Fire Department, also said fire investigators have narrowed the cause of the fire at Moo’s Diner “to electrical.”
He said the fire was contained to the back third of the cement block building. “It could have been a whole lot worse,” said Thrift.
Joe Moschetti told council the “estimated” loss was $347,000 and, of that, $50,000 was for contents.
Dodd, who had rented the building, indicated he would like to see it rebuilt and noted that casting forms for the cement blocks are still held by a town resident.
Town administrator Lewis Filling said during the November 14 work session that the building may have to be demolished.
In another matter, the town has applied for $435,000 in federal grant money for improvements to Virginia Street from Cross Street to the Urbanna Town Marina at Upton’s Point.
This money will fund Phase II construction of street improvements and will include sidewalks, decorative street lights, a wall in front of the Old Tobacco Warehouse, and infrastructure under the street, which will be repaved. “The big advantage is rebuilding the infrastructure,” said Filling.
The estimated total cost is $1 million. The town’s share is 20 percent ($200,000). Filling said he has written the application requesting that any money left over can be used for the engineering of Phase III (Cross Street).
Council will not hold a work session next month, but will hold its annual holiday reception and monthly meeting on December 15. The public is invited to the reception, which will begin at 6:15 p.m., and to stay for the meeting that follows at 7 p.m.