By William Thompson
LOGAN — The Ute Lake Marina, in service since 1980, was recently closed down by New Mexico State Parks officials due to safety concerns and contractual violations on the part of the marina’s owners, according to a parks department press release.
Sid and Beverly Smith were the owners of the marina since October 2003. The Smiths were out of town and not available for comment.
Dave Simon, director of New Mexico State Parks, said it was fortunate the marina was closed during the slow season at Ute Lake. “It is unfortunate to close a marina that the public has relied on at Ute Lake State park, but our main concern is visitor safety,” Simon said. “We hope to have the marina operating again by next spring.”
The Smiths operated a retail store at the marina in addition to providing boat slips, mooring anchors and gasoline for boaters. Dan Williams, public information officer for New Mexico State Parks, said state parks officials found some serious safety issues at the marina during an inspection.
“Among the violations were walkways that were a little shaky and there were some unsecured anchoring systems for the mooring docks,” Williams said. “We tried to contact the owners of the marina. We gave them plenty of opportunity to correct the violations.”
Williams said the Smiths’ concession fees had not been paid and were overdue.
“Our concessionaires have to pay us monthly fees,” Williams said. “They were five months behind in their payments. We haven’t been able to reach them since early October.”
Officials said the Smiths left town when the summer season ended.
Williams seemed confident that new owners will be found for the marina.
“I think the marina would be a very good opportunity for new owners. Ute Lake is the most stable lake in New Mexico,” Williams said. “Our visitation at Ute Lake has been going up.”
Williams said state parks officials have not decided yet if they will make the necessary repairs to the marina or if they will require the new owners to make the repairs.
“It’s a great business opportunity for someone with business sense and the willingness to work hard at it,” Williams said. “It’s like any business.”
Rodney Paris, Ute Lake’s park manager, said boaters should not be discouraged from using Ute Lake this winter.
“There are still plenty of facilities for boaters,” Paris said. “The marina is usually closed during winter anyway.”
People who still have boats in the marina’s slips, or other personal property at the marina, can call Ute Lake State Park Superintendent John Vigil at (505) 487-2284.