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Future uncertain for historic paddlewheel riverboat straddling Ohio, Kentucky line
Reported by: Associated Press
Reported: Saturday, November 2, 2013 1:08 PM EST
A paddlewheel riverboat that has been a landmark on the Ohio River between Cincinnati and northern Kentucky will be moved from its moorings by the beginning of the year, its future uncertain.
It has been vacant since and will be moved following talks between the city of Covington, Ky., and its owner, Jimmy Bernstein, The Cincinnati Enquirer reports .
Bernstein said he hopes the move is only temporary.
"I think it's better to move it, do the renovations and then try to bring it back," Bernstein said from his home in South Carolina.
Bernstein had several meetings with city officials over the past few months about the fate of the riverboat. The message, he said, was clear: Either open something on the 77-year-old Mike Fink or move it.
Neighbors in the stately Licking River Historic District in Covington had complained that the boat had fallen into disrepair and trapped debris from the river.
"We hope that it can return. But the eyesore needs to be cleaned up," said Marc Hult, president of the Historic Licking Riverside Association. "It is, in our minds, a historically appropriate, best use of the waterfront in our neighborhood."
The Mike Fink originally was built in 1936 and operated as a restaurant under owner Capt. John Beatty on Cincinnati's Public Landing until 1967. Construction of the Cincinnati Reds' Riverfront Stadium then forced it to move to Covington.
A decade later it almost was sold and moved downriver to New Orleans when local restaurateur Ben Bernstein, Jimmy Bernstein's father, stepped in and bought it.
Instead, it reopened under the Bernsteins' ownership in 1977 and remained a popular spot until Valentine's Day 2008, when it closed its doors for needed hull repairs. Towed to a dry dock in South Point, Ohio, it got a new $500,000 steel hull and was gutted in preparation for a projected $1.5 million renovation.
Ultimately, those plans were scuttled by the recession.
Since then, there have been several unsuccessful attempts to reopen.
Jimmy Bernstein said a new site for the Mike Fink hasn't yet been identified, nor have concrete plans for its renovation. He said he will continue working with the city after the boat is removed, aiming for its eventual return.
Ben Bernstein died in 1992. The street leading to the Mike Fink was renamed Ben Bernstein Place in 2002, recognizing him as a major figure in Covington's riverfront development.
"The Mike Fink represents a tradition and heritage that's very important to me and my family," Jimmy Bernstein said. "It's my father's legacy."
Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer, http://www.enquirer.com