Earlier this spring, a group of local fisherman asked the City Council to reconsider the current ordinance that prohibits any boat with a motor larger than 9.9 horsepower from operating on Augusta City Lake. The Park Advisory Board scheduled a public meeting on Tuesday, June 11th from 6:00-7:30 PM at The Point Events Center in order to hear a wide variety of perspectives and to allow community members to share their views and interact with each other. This letter is a follow up to those community discussions.
The public forum was well attended and gave the City Council and Park Advisory Board a better idea of how community members regard the current restrictions and what they value most about Augusta City Lake as a public amenity. The Park Advisory Board debriefed the community’s input at their next meeting on July 23rd.
Following is a summary of what we heard from all of you:
- Augusta residents take a lot of personal ownership in the lake, whether they own adjacent land or simply place a boat on its surface;
- Augusta residents value the lake primarily as a “local amenity” and want limitations on access to non-residents [especially for boats];
- All parties expressed a desire to prevent overdevelopment and excessive traffic that interferes with neighbors’ quiet enjoyment of their property or takes away from the lake’s natural beauty;
- Regarding power boat activity, adjacent property owners are most concerned about noise, wave action/erosion, litter, security and enforcement of lake regulations;
- Power boat owners have not asked to change any other lake regulations pertaining to speed, personal watercraft, etc.
After debriefing these various concerns, the Park Advisory Board directed city staff to prepare a revised ordinance and fee schedule allowing boats with motors larger than 10 HP to access the city lake under limited conditions. Their recommendation was for the City to undergo a one year trial of removing the horsepower restrictions on Augusta City Lake, while limiting the number of powered boat (>9.9 HP motor) permits to 25 and only offering said permits to Augusta residents. They also recommended establishing a new fee of $100 for those 25 permits. No other lake regulations would change. This modification will not open the lake for use by personal watercraft (i.e. jet skis) or for power boat users from outside of the city limits. Speed restrictions and all other regulations will still apply.
The City will conduct an evaluation involving public input near the end of the trial period to determine the impacts of the ordinance change and decide whether the horsepower restriction should be reinstated or not.
The City Council will discuss and decide on this recommendation at their regular meeting on Tuesday, September 3rd at 7:00 PM at Augusta City Hall. The Council meeting is open to the public. You may also contact your Council representative to inform them of your thoughts on this issue.