WALKER, Mich. (WZZM) - The Grand Rapids Rowing Association is in trouble. Ten years ago, they borrowed over $100,000 to build a boathouse in Walker, but now, the bank is giving them six months to pay the $60,000 they still owe, or lose it all.
The bank blames new lending rules adopted after the financial crisis in 2008. To make matters worse, the Grand Rapids Rowing Association doesn't even own this land; it is being leased by Greenleaf Landscaping next door, and rent has been going up every year.
Now, the Association is scared of losing the business, but mostly, of what the community would be losing.
"It gives the community an outlet to be able to see activity on the river," said Rueben Martin before rowing Saturday morning.
People of all shapes, sizes and abilities have found rowing to be their favorite way to enjoy the Grand River.
Martin says it's the river's size, location, and speed which makes it an excellent rowing spot; on e starting to attract visitors from all over the nation.
But soon, the biggest Grand Rapids area rowing company could be gone. "Because it's a lease, we can't refinance with any bank anywhere, because there's no real property." explained Grand Rapids Rowing Association Executive Director Landon Bartley. "It's all transfer of assets, and because it's a lease, if we default on the lease, we lose everything."
Bartley says if the boathouse goes, so does all the help it gives to local schools. Many students use it to train for other sports or for physical and social activity for troubled youth.
"I'd hate to lose that momentum and lose that success, not only as a way to give kids a great experience in high school, but beyond," continued Bartley.
But Bartley says it's not looking good. They were in better financial shape earlier this year, but they took another big hit during the April flooding. Their last hope is to get the word out to the public.
Martin would hate to see it go, "I like being in the water, and I especially like all the friends here...it would be depressing."
An easy way you can help, also works as a family outing. There are plenty of slots open for rowing classes and different summer camps for the kids.