A summer without Boone Lake could impact economy across Tri-Cities

TRI-CITIES, TN (WJHL) – The news that Boone Lake levels will not be back up to normal this summer is just a day old, and people across the area are already reeling in anticipation of the potential impacts.

Marina and restaurant owners are afraid of losing a whole summer season’s worth of business, while homeowners are worried about losing property value.

But having Boone Lake out of commission for a summer could have a wider economic impact on the whole Tri-Cities.

“There’s been four fishing tournaments that have already canceled and several others that were on the fence,” said Brenda Whitson, Executive Director of the Johnson City Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Whitson told News Channel 11, they’ll likely cancel another event, “Quake on the Lake,” a speed boat race that debuted last summer.

“When you think about losing something that brought in $200k plus in economic impact, that’s a chunk of change,” she said.

Yet another event that won’t be held at Boone Lake this summer, the 10th annual Dragon Boat Festival, benefiting Niswonger Children’s Hospital.

The event is expected to draw a crowd of about 8,000 people this year.

“We hope that the community will still get behind it, it does help people all over the region, it’s not just Johnson City people that benefit from this hospital,” said Marsha Hammond with the Mountain States Foundation.

Hammond said they’re scouting other locations for this year’s fundraiser.

“If it’s a body of water and it’s a lake, we’re probably going to go look at it. If it’s in the region here, we’ve got a long list to go look at. Because it is a big event, with 8,000 people so we’ve got to find a location that’s going to hold everyone,” she said.

Hammond said the boat festival will still be held on August 29th, the location is to be announced.

Meanwhile, Dan Mahoney, owner of Mahoney’s Outfitters, is sitting on a large inventory of boats and kayaks he hopes to sell this season.

“See, we’ve already got our stock in and it’s got to be paid for,” he said.

He said retailers and restaurants miles away from the lake are going to feel a ripple effect.

“It’ll affect businesses in downtown Johnson City, Kingsport, and Bristol. It’s going to affect us all,” he said.

Copyright WJHL 2015. All rights reserved.

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