By MADELYN FAIRBANKS
Published June 20, 2012
Wakeboard park agreement passes council
MONROE - The City Council voted 5-2 last week to authorize Mayor Robert Zimmerman to enter into a contract with H30, a private water-sport company, to build a wakeboard park on Lake Tye.
Council members Patsy Cudaback and Ed Davis provided the two dissenting votes.
The park, which may take up to six months to build, is expected to take up approximately one-third of the lake at the south end. The man-made lake is now considered a “recreational jewel for the residents of Monroe who stroll its shores, walk its 1.67 mile walkway, fish for stocked rainbow trout, or swim and play on the park beach,” Monroe resident Doug Wilson said in a letter to another paper.
H30, which has been vocal in its desire to peacefully coexist with current lake users and residents, has put forth peace offerings in the run-up to a final contract.
The company has promised to fix the bioswale on the site that is not functioning properly, as well as offer residents a discount to use the park.
Residents were able to voice their concerns last week during a time set aside for citizen comments, and many of the opponents echoed each other’s doubts about the park.
One opponent after another voiced their concern about noise levels, the possibly unsightly rigging of the park, swimmer safety, parking availability, and perhaps the most delicate issue of all: upsetting the park’s natural ecosystem that provides a sanctuary for not only residents, but for wildlife as well.
Monroe resident Doug Nelson, who moved his office from downtown Monroe to Lake Tye in January, stated during his testimony that he frequently watches the bald eagles live day-to-day out of a years-old nest, and had just watched them dive for fish in the lake earlier in the day.
Nelson, like many others, can’t help but worry that this wildlife will be either injured or pushed out of their homes.
Supporters of the park argued that impacts to the environment won’t be negative. Speaker Carrie Gengrin even put her fellow Monroe residents on the spot.
“Are we going to be a gateway adventure, or are we just going to talk about it?” Gengrin said, referring to the city’s slogan, “The Adventure Starts Here.”
Instead of closing the park off to some users as opponents debated, Gengrin suggested the opposite.
“This brings more families more opportunity. It’s not taking away; it’s bringing more,” Gengrin said, adding that the citizens of Monroe should be more open to sharing the public park by making a “team effort.”
Just before council members cast their vote, economic development manager Jeff Sax presented the council with some of the park’s economic benefits that he said are hard to ignore.
Sax pointed out that H30 plans to build a 2,500-square-foot building terraced with docks which will become the city’s property if and when H30 ever discontinues business at Lake Tye. The rigging and cable-tow equipment will remain H30’s property, and the company will remove it at its own expense if it goes out of business.
The public-private lease agreement dictates that H30 will pay the city $12,000 in rent the first year, $18,000 the second year, and an annual $24,000 in years three through 10. The city will also receive two percent of the park’s gross revenue as “additional rent.”
The park’s lease will last 10 years, with three five-year options for renewal.
Sax admitted that the yearly revenue accrual isn’t astronomical.
On top of the rent income, Sax said that the highly likely “spin-off revenue,” which includes gas and meals park users may buy in Monroe, made a “strong argument” for economic development.
Cudaback, one of the two dissenting council votes, remained opposed throughout the meeting.
“It will affect the water use,” Cudaback said, indicating that peaceful activities like fishing may not remain as peaceful.
Some opponents were still holding on to the hope that H30 might consider building at the nearby Cadman site instead of Lake Tye, but that last remaining hope was crushed early in the meeting.
An e-mail from H30 partner Brad Smith was submitted confirming that the company would absolutely not build there.