Concern mounts over state of McGregor riverfront

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Concern is mounting on McGregor’s riverfront. Mayor Lyle Troester, speaking at the Aug. 21 council meeting, said McGregor Marina tenants are leaving, citing poor dock conditions and inability to get into their slips, even long after flooding abated earlier this summer.

“So many people come up to me wondering when the marina is going to fold. They’re so upset,” Troester said. “Houseboats have left. No one wants to park there. It’s to the point where it’s serious. And we’re held hostage.”

People prefer the location to other communities, he added, but don’t like the lack of maintenance.

“It puts a dark shadow on McGregor,” agreed councilwoman Rogeta Halvorson. “Like, don’t come to McGregor.”

Troester asked city attorney Mike Schuster what options are available to the city. 

The problem isn’t new, the attorney noted. Several years ago, the city looked into annexing a portion of the river, which would allow officials to use an ordinance to regulate the condition of the docks and assure they were safe. They could try that again, Schuster said.

Otherwise, he added, “the only enforceable mechanism we have is the lease.”

Troester wondered if the city’s lease with McGregor Marina could be changed, giving the city some of the marina docks for additional transient boat traffic and allowing the marina owners to focus more on Boatels and the Beer and Bratz Garden.

“Then they would have less space and lower rent,” agreed Halvorson.

Schuster said any changes to the lease would have to be re-negotiated and amenable to the owners. He suggested a meeting with the Sporleders to discuss the idea.

“That would be a good first step,” he shared. “I’ve always advocated for the council to take more action.”

Troester said time is of the essence. The situation means lost income for the marina and other local businesses who rely on river traffic.

“We’ve already lost a tremendous amount. We’ve lost the motel and now the transient boaters,” he stated. “Everyone wanted it to succeed, and we’ve bent over backward, but I don’t know how much more we can lose down there.”

Next year, he cautioned, could be worse.

“The tenants who are there now paid last fall,” Troester said, “and I don’t think they’re going to pay this fall.”

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