LOUISVILLE — A group of marina owners who are worried a new proposed marina site on Lake Cumberland could further hurt their business are asking a federal judge to block the proposal.
The group says a new marina on the south-central Kentucky lake is not needed because its existing ones are already hurting or even shutting down.
Tourism on the lake has been hampered by the lowering of water levels in 2007 to ease pressure on Wolf Creek Dam while it undergoes massive repairs and reinforcing.
The Lake Cumberland Association sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday and asked a judge to keep the agency from allowing a new marina site to be leased in Russell County.
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Bill Jasper, who owns two marinas on the lake, said the proposal should be delayed until the lake levels are restored and businesses have a chance to recover.
"It just seems counterintuitive that this would be the appropriate time to add a marina on the lake," said Jasper, who is a member of the association that filed the suit.
The suit says allowing the new site, called Rowena Landing South, to be leased "poses significant risks of immediate and irreparable harm to the other marina owners."
The new marina could open in April 2013, according to the lawsuit. The Corps has said the lake levels would likely remain low until 2014.
A spokesman for the Corps of Engineers in Nashville said that its legal counsel had not yet seen the suit.
The 15-page lawsuit details businesses' struggles on the lake since the level was lowered. Five marinas have closed since 2010, and there are about 1,000 vacant boat slips, the suit said. Grider Hill marina, which is about a mile from the new proposed marina site, has 250 vacant slips and is "operating at a negative cash flow."
At least one marina still operating has seen its revenue drop by 50 percent since 2006, the suit said. Three of the five failed marinas, London Dock, Blue Creek Marina and Alligator 1 Marina, were forced to move because of the lowered water levels and were destroyed by flooding or closed because of poor sales.