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VMRC wants sunken barge removed from Urbanna Creek

by Tom Chillemi

The Virginia Marine Police will be seeking a court order to force the owner or owners to raise a sunken barge on Urbanna Creek, said John Bull, director of public relations with the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC).

According to Bull, the barge is registered to Urbanna Yachting Center Sales and Service LLC, the owner of the marina where the barge sank. The bill of sale is made out to Ray Watson Jr., who signed the registration.

Watson has been a partner or involved with the marina owners Potomac Timber Investments LLC. Since 2008 the marina has been at the center of a $4.5 million lawsuit filed by Potomac Timber against the Town of Urbanna for denying its site plan, which sought the construction of 14 proposed condominiums on marina property.

The barge began to sink on March 28, said Bull and is now straddling the marina’s property line. The barge is resting on state-owned bottom and marina property.

At least two weeks ago, the Virginia Marine Police ordered the barge owners to remove the barge within seven days, but it remains on the creek bottom. Marine police will pursue a court order to compel removal of the barge, said Bull.

Virginia Marine Police have inspected the sunken barge several times, including on Monday, May 14, said Bull. There is a pole on the barge sticking out of the water to mark its location. Marine police have determined the sunken barge is not a hazard to navigation for the general public, although it could affect boaters using the marina.

At Friday’s work session of the Urbanna Town Council, Mayor Don Richwine said a boat from the marina backed into the barge, which punched a hole in the stern below the water line. The boat took on water and had to be hauled for repairs.

Councilman Boyd Wiley suggested the barge should be marked with buoys or other means. “It’s just a matter of time before somebody gets hurt on it. It is a hazard.”

Council discussed placing markers around the barge, but decided to check with the Virginia Marine Police before taking action.

The Sentinel attempted to reach Watson on Monday afternoon by calling his personal cell phone, which he did not answer. His recording identified the phone as his personal cell phone. The phone service said the mail box was full and no message could be left.

posted 05.16.2012

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