Public access to Silver Lake will be open for business this season
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- By DAVE RANK - Daily News Staff March 15, 2003 A snowmobiler travels across Little Cedar Lake this week. This year in the town of West Bend?s Tri-Lakes region Silver Lake will open for public access as well.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- TOWN OF WEST BEND - Forget the late season snow and ice for now. Think spring.
It won?t be long before the ice clears and the county?s public boat launches again provide access to both Big and Little Cedar lakes in the town.
And later this year, public access to the smallest partner in the town?s Tri-Lakes region, Silver Lake, opens for business.
On Big Cedar Lake, last year?s $90,000 in improvements to the Gonring Drive boat launch has doubled the size of the ramp and added piers and other amenities.
The double launch area has helped alleviate congestion on Gonring Drive, said Robert Schulteis, operations manager for the Big Cedar Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District, which operates the launch.
"It?s much faster," he said. "You didn?t see people last year lined up to use the ramp like you did other years. It?s sped up the process."
Big Cedar Lake is about 1,000 acres in size. The Gonring Drive launch has parking space for 36 vehicles in two nearby lots. A small boat launch farther south on the lake is located on Cedar Park Drive. Three parking spaces are located there.
The 73-acre Ackerman?s Grove County Park opened with its public boat launch on Little Cedar Lake in 2001 and residents there have expressed satisfaction with the results.
"It?s been working out very well," said Randy Weber, secretary of the Little Cedar Lake Protection and Rehabilitations District.
"Ours works just fine," said Bob Ramsthal, district chairman. "The county owns the land and does everything."
The park is located on Highway Z in the town of Polk. Little Cedar is 246 acres in size.
Washington County plans to construct a public boat launch on Silver Lake this summer or fall. The 8.3-acre Henschke Hillside Lake Access is located on Peters Drive on the west side of the lake.
Over the three years the county has worked on the project, many Silver Lake residents have expressed concerns over the proposed public access because of the potential for increases in noise, traffic, parking, lighting, as well as over dredging for the boat launch and various site design details. Peters Drive is a narrow, nonconforming residential town road.
Most recently, representatives of the Silver Lake Protective Association Inc., a private, nongovernmental organization of property owners on the lake, are complaining that studies to determine the environmental impact of the site?s dredging are inadequate and toxic materials in the sediment, once disturbed, possibly could contaminate local wells.
"I?m afraid they?ll pollute my well," said Paul Rice, a town supervisor and member of the Silver Lake Protective Association. "It?s just disturbing they?ve been ramrodding it through," he said of the state and county.
"It?s going to cost $2 million to have a fishing hole for seven guys," Rice said, referring to plans to have seven parking spaces in the Henschke Hillside Lake Access.
Officially, the cost of the project is set at $670,000, paid for by federal and state grants through the state?s Department of Natural Resources, which has encouraged the county to go ahead with the project.
The 135-acre Silver Lake is the largest lake in Washington County without public access and the DNR has for years received calls to open the lake to the public.
The county obtained its lake access property from the late Roland Henschke and his family in 1999. Henschke donated about a quarter-acre and the county purchased the rest of the site from the family for $450,000.
Grant money was also used to reimburse the county for the purchase.
Rice said it is unfortunate the county could not have worked out an agreement with the Silver Lake Yacht Club to take over that launch site instead. On at least two occasions, the county tried to discuss acquiring the Yacht Club and was turned down by club officials.
"It?s a horrible location for a boat launch," Rice said of the Henschke site. "It?s five doors down from one that?s existed for a 100 years which already has deep water access without dredging (the yacht club)."
Rice said, "It?s very sad. It?s just not a good situation."
The Henschke property is located on the northeast bay of the lake on Peters Drive, south of West Paradise Drive. There are about 210 residents who live around the lake, which for at least the past 30 years has had a shoreline entirely in private hands.
Improvements to the site will include parking for seven vehicle-trailer units, three car-only spaces and access for people with disabilities while preserving existing wetlands. A planned stormwater retention pond on the site should also help alleviate a chronic flooding problem on Peters Drive, county officials said.
Development of the site also will include removing two existing homes, two storage sheds and a garage, dredging, installing a boat ramp, an accessible boarding dock and restroom facilities.
TOWN OF WEST BEND - A $5 boat launch fee likely will go into effect at Big Cedar Lake this June. At Thursday night?s meeting of the Big Cedar Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District commissioners, Chair-man Roger Walsh outlined the procedure to implement an honor fee collection system similar to the one used on Little Cedar Lake by the county at its Ackerman?s Grove County Park launch ramp.
Currently, no fee is required to launch a boat from either of the two public ramps onto Big Cedar Lake.
Residents voiced support for the concept at the districts annual meeting in August.
The Big Cedar Lake district operates the Gonring Drive public boat launch and state statutes allow the district to charge "reasonable fees to offset the costs of maintenance," Walsh said.
The fee also will be installed at the smaller Cedar Park Drive public boat launch ramp off of Boettcher Drive, Walsh said.
A yearly launch pass option for frequent lake visitors also will be considered, he said.
An attorney, Walsh said he is preparing a proposed ordinance to authorize the boat launch fee that will be reviewed by his fellow commissioners and the state?s Department of Natural Re-sources.
A public hearing on the proposal will be held at the commission?s May meeting with the ordinance "up for adoption at the June meeting," he said.
The district must provide insurance for the boat launch and provides the manpower to move and repair the piers, Walsh said.
With the fee, he said, "we?re trying to build up a reserve" to help cover those expenses.
Last year, the district upgraded the Gonring Drive launch, doubling its size and adding other amenities. State grants totaling more than $90,000 paid for those improvements.