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Evansville Boater Accuses Inland Marina Of Safety Violations

Evansville's Inland Marina has been around for 50 years -- but is it safe? One man suggests it's not. John Graybill says the marina isn't safe for boaters or their boats.
Evansville's Inland Marina has been around for 50 years -- but is it safe? One man suggests it's not. John Graybill says the marina isn't safe for boaters or their boats.

The accusations come on the heels of the recent snow and ice storms. Graybill tells Eyewitness News he became concerned after learning his boat was among those keeping the covered boat dock afloat as the roof took on heavy layers of snow and ice.

"It put so much pressure on my boat I now have damage and I'm taking that up with the insurance company and then Inland Marina," said Graybill.

"I don't think there's a problem other than he's really mad at us for some reason," said owner Ron Riecken, adding the practice is neither new nor uncommon. "I haven't heard one single person who has a problem with what we do."

Riecken says it's a necessary step to ensure the roof doesn't collapse on the boats while workers clear roofs the size of football fields of snow and ice. "We go along and actually add some lines so that the dock is supported evenly and it is stabilized to buy us enough time to save the boats," explained Riecken.

"It just disappointed me that Inland Marina took it upon themselves to not ask me permission, or any of the other boat owners permission, to use their boats as buoyancy devices to keep the boat house from falling," said Graybill. "Practices like this are so unacceptable."

Riecken says they've been tying boats down during snow and ice storms for 40 years to prevent the roof from caving in, crushing the boats docked underneath. "We're trying to save everyone's boat. We do the best we can. If we didn't do it, they'd be gone. They'd all be gone."

Graybill's concerns don't stop there. During a walk through he pointed out a variety of safety concerns including uninspected fire hydrants and low hanging electrical wires.

"We got that fixed today," said Riecken, referring to the expired fire hydrants. "They were out of date. I don't do them every year."

Riecken says the electric wires are in long swooping spans to adjust to the changing river levels. "We fluctuate from a river stage of 12.8 feet to 47.5 feet so you have to have long spans to take this fluctuation," explained Riecken. "It's been this way for 50 years.

Graybill says he doesn't want to harm the marina, but he hopes making his concerns public will make the boat dock a safer place. "Hopefully things can get corrected during now and the boating season to make it right."

"If it does harm us or Inland Marina John Graybill better look out," said Riecken. "This is our baby. We've been here 50 years. He better not harm us."

According to the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Building Commission, part of Inland Marina falls under its jurisdiction, the other part is in Kentucky. Commissioner Ben Miller tells Eyewitness News the marina was grandfathered in to 1972 building code. The organization is looking into those codes to see if they're being followed. Miller adds that this is the first safety complaint he's ever received regarding the marina.
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