Vote rejects longtime management of Chicago harbor

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Hundreds of boaters on Greater Chicago’s North Shore will likely be without a place to put their vessels this summer after a lease bid from the group that has managed Wilmette Harbor for 75 years was rejected.

A 4-3 vote by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District marked a turn in the two-year debate over management of the 300-slip harbor on Lake Michigan, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Water reclamation district executive director David St. Pierre told the Tribune it's unlikely that a new tenant could take over the lease in time for boating season.

The harbor closing also would affect the hundreds who take sailing lessons every summer, said David Schmitt, who has used the harbor for more than 50 years.

"The impact goes far beyond a few mooring holders," said Schmitt, who serves on the board of the Wilmette Harbor Association, the private group that lost the lease.

It also could mean the end of the road for the harbor association, which submitted the lowest of three bids for the lease, but was the only one deemed "financially responsive" by the water reclamation district.

The harbor association's temporary permit expires at the end of the month. St. Pierre said the permit, which has been extended several times since the lease expired in July, could be extended again, but Wilmette Harbor Association president Jim Dominik says the group is not interested.

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