Grand Lake town marina business drops as gas prices rise | SkyHiNews.com

Grand Lake town marina business drops as gas prices rise

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News

TONYA BINA/SKY-HI DAILY NEWS

The town of Grand Lake’s Headwaters Marina numbers were down this year from 12,000 customers in 2007 to 9,000 in 2008, according to marina manager Jerry Hassoldt.

The decrease may correspond with what businesses overall experienced in Grand Lake, he said, as gas prices made their mark on tourist visitation.

The town marina, which offers five paddle boats, five pontoon boats, four run-abouts and a tour boat, raised prices this season by $2 per rental to offset rising gas prices.

A decrease in travelers coupled with 30 days of inclement weather from late June to September, compared to eight bad-weather days last year, compounded the strain on the marina season, Hassoldt said.

The slower season was partially balanced by a shortage of employees. The marina employed five fewer workers from 2007 to 2008.

In hindsight, “We’re fortunate we didn’t staff up as much because of the slower year,” said Grand Lake’s Town Manager Shane Hale.

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Despite the season’s shortfalls, “we’re tracking to make a profit this year,” he said.

“We’re just not near where we hoped we’d be.” With three more weeks left in the season, expected to be flat for business, official tallies are due out in coming weeks.

It’s the first full season the town has operated the marina on Grand Lake, which before had been leased to outside operators.

Due to a late start last year because of dock reconstruction, that business season was abbreviated yet the marina saw more customers and its enterprise fund netted more profit.

“We’re right in line with most other businesses in town,” Hale said about this year. “I’ve heard from a couple of businesses that they were up, but I think they were the exception.”

The town general fund loaned the marina enterprise fund $200,000 at a 10-year rate to launch the town marina in 2007, “with the idea of keeping payments lower and reachable for off years such as this year,” Hale said. He added the marina aims to pay back the general fund sooner than 10 years.

Improvements such as replacing boats and maintaining docks are planned, but installing a public boat gas pump is not one of them.

According to marina officials, the federal regulations governing installation of equipment for public boat gas were beyond what the town could do.

“We do not have the volume for the amount of infrastructure needed,” Hale said. “We couldn’t justify the cost.”

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.

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