Attention boaters: Tired of paying those expensive yacht club fees?
You can dock your vessel at the city's $6.3 million Skyway Marina for free, complete with water and electricity hookups (boat not included).
Four years after Toledo opened the facility on the city's east side, the 77-dock Skyway Marina is seeing quite a bit of boater activity, but no move by the city to recoup the expense.
Boaters docked at the facility Monday said they haven't paid the city a dime in three years.
Deputy mayor Tom Crothers could not confirm the situation for all three years, but said this season the city has allowed the marina to open free of charge because it hasn't been able to contract anyone to manage the site. In 2010, the city also allowed boaters to dock for free after a company recruited to oversee the marina declined the contract.
Mr. Crothers said Monday the city is still working to secure new management for the marina, but didn't want to close the facility in the meantime because it attracts visitors to the area. He could not say Monday how much it costs the city to maintain the docks and supply it with water and electricity.
"In an effort to be user friendly and bring more boats into downtown Toledo, we made a decision to allow those folks to utilize the marina," he said. "This is a public marina, it was built by and large with public funds, and we think it's fair and reasonable to have it open for folks who want to come up the Maumee River."
Councilman D. Michael Collins, however, decried the idea.
"I think it's a terrible use of a resource. There's no defending of it," Mr. Collins said. "I think the administration should have had an opportunity to market that place. There's so much money invested in it, and it's just sitting there."
The marina, formerly known as the Glass City Municipal Marina, opened in June, 2008. It shares its quarters with a marine passenger terminal developed by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, which is scheduled to become the site of the Great Lakes Maritime museum next year.
The terminal includes showers, restrooms, and a store for use by boaters, although those facilities are currently shuttered.
On a recent afternoon, about 25 boats were docked at the Skyway Marina. Some were small, but a number were 35-foot cabin cruisers. Many had plugged into electrical and water pumps in front of each docking space.
It's not that boaters don't want to pay, several insisted Monday.
Arthur Taylor, 63, who lives on his 34-foot Wellcraft, said he would gladly fork out something to be able to dock his boat there, especially if it included access to the restrooms and showers. He said he loves the view of the Veterans' Glass City Skyway, the proximity to downtown, and that the marina is deep enough to handle his boat.
"I think it's the best dock on the river. ... I don't understand why the city doesn't charge," he said. "I'd be glad to pay, but I'm not going to rock the boat."
Mr. Taylor said he sometimes goes up to Detroit to dock his boat, but that costs $39 for the night. He's been staying at the Skyway Marina for the last three boating seasons, he said.
"You can't beat free," he said.
Randy Teneyck, 51, of East Toledo said he and a friend pay $600 a month for another dock space near the lake, but they like the Skyway Marina because it's close to where they live and it floats on the water so boats don't get damaged if the water level rises.
"I don't know why they're not [charging]," he said. "But as long as it's free, people are going to come."
East Toledo Councilman Mike Craig said that's the point of having the marina there. He criticized Mr. Collins for complaining about the site when he previously objected to having a management company run it.
"That marina was never built to make money," Mr. Craig said. "This was built to bring people to Toledo so they could dock there temporarily."
Contact Claudia Boyd-Barrett at: email@example.com or 419-724-6272.