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Smooth 'sale' for Cheektowaga hovercraft? Don't hold your breath

The online auction of Cheektowaga’s hovercraft ended Sunday with a high bid of $16,100, confirmed Charles Markel, deputy highway superintendent.

Closing the deal now rests with the Town Board, which rejected one offer in the past.

The gently used Universal 19XR-IC Hovercraft was placed on the block after a series of unsuccessful attempts by  the town to sell it. Cash Realty & Auctions conducted the online auction that started Oct. 7. The 2012 model logged 32 hours of active duty since it was purchased new for $70,000 from the manufacturer in Rockford, Ill.

Officials originally intended to use the amphibious vehicle in water rescues and to clear debris from Cheektowaga creeks – Ellicott, Scajaquada, Cayuga and Slate Bottom – that can swell with rain to depths topping 15 feet, said Highway Superintendent Mark Wegner. But over the years the hovercraft was under-utilized because of inadequate launch sites, officials said.

The Highway Department tried to sell the craft on Auctions International in 2014 and received a bid for $10,800, but the Town Board rejected the offer.

And the effort was dead in the water. Apparently not many consumers were in the market for a used amphibious craft, noted an official with Auctions International, an online auction service that sells unwanted equipment for municipalities.

This summer the town again decided to test the waters with a time-tested approach to selling used vehicles: Wegner hung a “For Sale” sign on the hovercraft, and hauled it from the municipal garage outside on Union Road. Wegner said he received several phone calls from potential buyers.

But again the town came up dry.

Now officials hope the Town Board will accept this latest offer for the infamous amphibious craft. Lawmakers may decide its fate on as soon as Oct. 23.

“It was a mistake; mistakes happen,” said Charles Markel, deputy town supervisor. "It's time to move on."

Nowhere to launch: Cheektowaga unloads its hovercraft

 

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