By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6
OSAGE COUNTY, OK -- Marina owners at Skiatook Lake say they are bracing for a flood of business this holiday weekend.
One marina owner says he's expecting a 20 percent increase in boat traffic just because of how high the water is at other area lakes.
"This will be the biggest yet, by far," said Ron Howell, Cross Timbers developer.
Cross Timbers' development gets bigger every year, and workers are banking on having their most successful weekend yet.
"We literally cannot be shut down," Howell said. "Our docks are designed that it doesn't matter how high the water is, how low it is, we're going to be open for business."
The single biggest reason -- a recent streak of 22 straight days of rain has handicapped many area lakes ahead of the boating season kickoff.
While Keystone Lake is 17 feet above normal, and Tenkiller is 11. Skiatook is one foot above normal.
"It's going to be some people's only bet, and everyone's best bet, to come out and enjoy the water," sales manager Todd Schuster said.
Howell expanded his marina by 30 percent this year. All but 25 boat slips are full.
"We've grown by an average of 100 slips a year in our four-year history, so we're up to 450," he said. "We really have not felt the effects of the recession."
Howell says lake real estate is a unique position to not only survive the downturn but also thrive.
"It is very clear, very calm and very close to Tulsa," he said.
Construction is under way on dozens of summer cottages overlooking the water.
Schuster says this weekend boaters will get a first-hand look.
"Thousands of people, I'm expecting," he said.
The 30 summer cottages will be up for public sale starting next Saturday.
Schuster says he's already received inquires from 20 people interested in rental opportunities.
Drivers in Oklahoma City and Tulsa are near the middle of the pack when it comes to safety.