North Country marinas, campgrounds try to bounce back from border closure

Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 6:20 PM EDT
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WEST CHAZY, N.Y. (WCAX) - Summer seasonal businesses like marinas and campgrounds were some of our region’s hardest-hit industries during the pandemic because of the closed border. Now, with the border back open Kelly O’Brien reports on how the season is shaping up so far.

The signs are back out in front of Monty’s Bay Campsites in West Chazy.

“We’ve had several customers who have been here for many, many years,” said Sheila Blair, the campground’s manager.

And boats have returned to the slips across the street at Gilbert Brook Marina. “Kind of unique in a sense, it’s one of the very few that has both a campground and a marina,” Blair said.

The business has seen a lot of change in its nearly six decades. Richard and Linda Bridgeman from Greenfield Park, on the south shore of Montreal, have watched it grow.

“This will be our 48th year down here,” Linda said. She says it’s the neighbors and the peace of mind in the “country” that make them come back each year. “Really, really good friends -- we missed them a lot while we were away.”

The closed northern border kept the couple away for two years. “A change in our summer lifestyle for sure,” added Richard.

Their campsite, full of all their summer essentials, sat untouched. “We went through withdrawal symptoms because we had everything down here. We had nothing at home, no camping gear, no lawn chairs,” Linda said.

A common sight at Monty’s Bay, where half of the 140 campsites belong to Canadians. At the marina, 90% hail from Canada.

“It’s great to have them back but we are still paying the price for going two years without income,” Blair said. She says while nearly all the slips, moorings, and campsites are full this year, they will still end the year in the red. “There is so much that didn’t get done because we just couldn’t do it because of lack of income... ...if it would have continued this year, we wouldn’t have survived.”

Blair says pandemic staffing problems also persist. “We have not been able to staff so therefore we’ve had to cut back on hours,” she said.

They are hopeful to make up those losses over the next few seasons. Seasons that the Bridgeman’s say they are already looking forward to.

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