Boaters, Marina file claims with the city over McKellar Lake sewage spill

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memorial Day is the busiest day for boating season, but at Riverside Park Marina things aren't busy at all.

"Sun up to sun down we had 8 boaters," said Larry Stanley, owner of the  Riverside Park Marina.

He has been keeping a tally of boats coming into his Marina since it re-opened a week ago.

"Four on Friday," said Stanley.

It's far from the usual 35 to 40 boats on a holiday.

"Normally on weekends I can have people out there directing traffic showing them where to park we have so many boaters," he said.

This is what they feared would happen after the City shutdown the lake because of a huge sewage spill.

"With all the publicity that we have had, I just don't think anybody is gonna jump up and grab their kids or grand kids and jump up and just go boating. They are not gonna do it," said Stanley.

He said being closed a month has cost him customers and clean-up expenses.

"We are in the neighborhood of $100,000."

It's business he said may take a while to recover.

"My biggest thing is if they knew they had a problem, why didn't they have back-up in case this did happen," said Stanley.

So now he and several boaters have filed claims with the City of Memphis for damages because of the sewage spill.

He said many boaters, whose vessels have to sit in the water, want the city to pay to clean the bottom of their boats.

It could cost anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 per boat,  depending on the boat size.

"They are concerned this contamination may have gotten on them. They want to make sure that their boats are E-coli free," said Stanley.

Stanley said 65% of his marina sits on white styrofoam that soaks up water.

He feared that's contaminated too.

"If it was in the water, the foam absorbed it. It's a fact," said Stanley.

There are also worries for those who depend on McKellar Lake.

They are hoping for more boaters like Barry Frazier, one of a few who did come back.

"Until they fixed the problem, I didn't think it was safe. So until I found out it was clear and they said it was clear, that's when I came down," he said.

Still he fears others won't.

"Yeah. It's catastrophic. We are in trouble. Yeah. Certainly," said Stanley.

Stanley wouldn't not share the amount of his claim with the City of Memphis.

He and the other boaters are still awaiting a city response, saying they filed the claim about 2 weeks ago.

City offices were closed Monday for the holiday.

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