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The following is a copy of my letter to the Mining Journal printed 9 February, 1999.
February 3, 1999
The Mining Journal
249 W. Washington St.
Marquette, MI 49855
Fellow boaters take heed! Marquette City manager Mr. Gerald Peterson has just proposed raising our daily launch fees from $2.50 to $5.00 and annual launch passes from $40 to $100. I found out about this at a 25 January 1999 City Commission working group session, which was apparently not publicized and did not provide for public input. It was indicated these rates will be discussed during the next few Commission meetings before adoption.
You may ask how does Mr. Peterson justify proposing to double the daily rates and increase the annual rates by 167%? I believe he stated the city had subsidized the marina by some $23,000 last year. What he did not mention is the daily launch fees and annual stickers had raised $20,329 during 1996 and 1997 alone. Well, where did these moneys go? It obviously has not been put into the Presque Isle launch facilities, which should be an embarrassment to the City due to their poor condition. For example, of the four launch ramps there, only one is adequate for larger boats. The ramp on the left is so steep as to practically require a 4-wheel drive. The slab on the 2nd ramp from the right is so crooked that it is nearly impossible to get the boat on the trailer straight. Finally, the launch on the right is usually so filled in with sand, the trailer will get stuck and/or boat propeller will grind through the sand. The money obviously has not gone to marina supervision of the launch as the past several years I rarely saw marina personnel at the launch facilities. If the money has gone into marina lavatories, it certainly has not benefited us. Launchers are not allowed to use those facilities - only boaters with rental slips. The money has apparently not gone into new dock bumpers as I, a friend of mine, and a friend of his all had costly damage done to our boat by nails in the dock. The roughly $100,000 being spent on the new fuel tanks are mostly for filling boats with slips and transients, not boats that launch. I think we know where the money did not go - to fix or improve launching facilities. There was no discussion at the work session to cut marina operating costs instead of raising rates.
You don't have to be a marketing expert to know that doubling fees will not double the income. Instead, I believe doubling launch fees will result in some boaters making personal sacrifices to afford to launch in Marquette, and probably for quite a few boaters, it will close the door on fishing in Lake Superior. All this may result in a little more marina income but a lot less enjoyment for our boaters. Won't it be tragic for some to have to give up one of the greatest pleasures we have living around Marquette - boating. I don't know of any fellow boaters who received pay or retirement increases between 100% and 167% last year. This is an ill-conceived idea, poorly thought out, and grossly unfair to the launchers. I think it's time to contact Mr. Peterson and our City Commissioners to voice our objections.
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