Resident appeals wakeboard park project
MONROE - A resident has filed an appeal of the city’s determination the proposed wakeboard park won’t have a significant environmental impact on Lake Tye and therefore doesn’t need to complete an environmental impact statement.
Diane Elliott filed the appeal Oct. 5. She said she isn’t opposed to the sport but to the location. She says the wakeboard park will put passive lake users, such as swimmers and people in canoes, in danger if a wakeboarder should lose control.
Environmentalists helping Elliott with the appeal also are concerned about the impacts the park will have on the biology of the lake, which is home to many species, including the bald eagle.
Elliott’s appeal argues city code forbids gas-powered and electric motors to operate on the lake.
The city’s Shoreline Master Program (SMP) states that “new boating facilities may be constructed to provide improved access for non-motorized and small electric boats less than 1.5 horsepower.”
Elliott said the project’s environmental checklist indicates that riders would be pulled by a motor with the equivalent of 50 horsepower.
“A 150-pound wakeboarder on a 4-foot fiberglass board weighing about 15 pounds being towed by a cable powered by a 50 horsepower motor at a minimum if 20 miles per hour on Lake Tye is a violation of the code which addresses the regulation of ‘watercraft’,” Elliott said.
Elliott also cites municipal code which prohibits “motors in excess of one and three-quarters horsepower, including model boats, be allowed on Lake Tye, unless otherwise approved by special event permit.”
The wakeboard park won’t pull wakeboarders by boat but by a motorized cable tow system.
Elliott argues the park’s cable tow motors, which control this “aggressive sport” violates the parts of code she cites, and that the city has “the prime responsibility for administering the regulatory requirements” of the shoreline program.
The city’s long-term lease with wakeboard park builder H30 does not, Elliott said, qualify for such a special permit.
“I looked at the codes, and they don’t seem to be in agreement. It’s not safe to have such an aggressive sport there,” Elliott said.
H30 entered into a contract with the city in June to build a wakeboard park. The project includes erecting six cable towers and building a 2,500-square-foot facility to house ticket and retail sales, restrooms, lockers and an office.
H30 partner Brad Smith said he’s ready for the appeal, which will go before a city hearing examiner Thursday, Oct. 25.
Smith disagrees with Elliott’s claims that the proposed park violates shoreline rules or municipal code.
“If we were in violation of any city codes, it would have been identified by the public works department the first time around,” Smith said.
“We want to enhance parks and not take away from them,” he said, adding that he is excited to be partnering with the city.
The city’s hearing examiner John Galt’s last day is Oct. 23. The city has selected former city attorney Phil Olbrechts to hear the wakeboard appeal.
If the city wins the appeal, the project can move forward in the permitting process without having to complete an environmental impact statement.
The park, which may take up to six months to build, is expected to take up 17 acres of the 42-acre lake at the south end.
Wakeboard park supporter Carrie Gendron disagrees the sport is aggressive.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for our youth to do a water sport at an inexpensive rate and an opportunity to experience water sports if they don’t have a boat,” Gendron said.
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