Major slip shortage expected on Lake Michigan

HAMMOND, Ind. - A casino expansion on Lake Michigan will force one of the largest marinas on the lake to close nearly all of its slips in 2007, the Associated Press reported in a story posted on yesterday.

Nearly 1,000 boat owners will lose their slips as a result of a plan to expand the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind., which is next door to the Hammond Marina.

The agreement negotiated between Hammond city officials and Horseshoe says the casino will pay $3.5 million to vacate every boat from the marina during the 2007 season. Hammond Marina plans to close the slips in 2007 and reopen in 2008. The company will not pay the city for lost business in 2006 or 2008, except in the unlikely event that actual construction cuts into the 2008 season, according to the story.

The Hammond Marina earns $3.5 million from its slip rentals and gasoline sales, and boaters say they spend considerable money in the shops and restaurants in the area, AP reported.

"I don't know where all those boats are going to go," Hammond boater Peggy Dunn told AP. "Nobody knows where they're going to put their boats. Everyone has a waiting list."

One local newspaper contacted about a dozen public and private marinas on the south shore of Lake Michigan, from Waukegan, Ill., to New Buffalo, Mich., and found that there are not 1,000 slips available in that 70-mile stretch of lakefront, according to the story.

"You could probably go all the way up to South Haven in Michigan, or up to Racine in Wisconsin, and you still won't find 1,000 (available) slips," Lisa Gawel, a boating enthusiast from Tinley Park, Ill., told AP. Her boat slip is being removed from the marina.

Hammond Marina director Milan Kruszynski is referring many Hammond boaters to Waukegan, north of Chicago. The harbormaster there said the Waukegan Port District has about 250 open slips - the largest concentration in a nearby public marina, AP reported.

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