Posted at: 02/28/2014 6:20 PM
By: Brett Davidsen
When the fast ferry sailed out of the Port of Rochester for the last time almost eight years ago, it left behind a lot of memories good and bad. It also left behind something else about $80,000 worth of liquor. As I-team 10 discovered, the city has yet to do anything with all that alcohol.
The city says this is a complicated issue, but says bottom line, the city doesn't own the liquor. The city certainly owned the fast ferry the final season it operated. So who does that alcohol would belong to is not exactly clear.
When the fast ferry hit the waters of Lake Ontario, it was supposed to be more than just a means of getting from Rochester to Toronto. The ship provided comfort and gave passengers a place to relax. That included a fully stocked bar with top shelf liquor. When Bob Duffy became mayor in 2006, he sold the ship because it was losing money, but alcohol from the bar apparently didn't go with it.
According to internal city communications viewed by I-Team 10, the liquor inventory from the fast ferry is sitting in a warehouse off East Main Street in Rochester, racking up thousands of dollars in storage fees.
City officials brought in two liquor distributors last year to find out what it was worth. According to the documents I-Team 10 has seen, they estimated the value at between $60,000 and $80,000. Late Friday afternoon, I-Team 10 spoke with the city's top attorney who says he doesn't know how the liquor got into the warehouse or when, but says they are staking no claim to it.
Andrew Brown said, "When we bought the boat, we didn't buy liquor. As far as we know, there was no liquor on it for sale to us. We did not acquire liquor. We did not acquire food products. We bought a boat."
The possibility exists the alcohol was off-loaded before the city took over the operation from the original private owners of the ferry, but the city says no one else has ever staked a claim to the liquor.
Further, the city is the one getting billed for the storage. News10NBC asked why the city doesn't just sell the liquor and it gets even more complicated for the city to try to do that. It doesn't have a liquor license and the attorney says it can't be sold or auctioned in the open market because it's in what is considered a foreign trade zone.