County Board Takes No Action On Twin Bridge BeachIssue Date: July 31, 2019
A recent decision by County Forestry and Parks Administrator Pete Vilas to eliminate boat access to a long-used landing beach area at Twin Bridge County Park generated a great deal of discussion at the County Board meeting on Tuesday, July 30 and may soon be reversed.
By unanimous vote, reappointment of Gail Wanek as District 24 Supervisor on County Board was approved, and she was returned to her former position on the Health and Human Services Committee. Wanek had resigned the position few months ago. County Board Chair Mark Anderson said Wanek's plans had not worked out, and she was now willing to come back to the board.
The board was informed a decision to close county roads as segments of ATV/UTV trail/routes had been reversed in favor of keeping them open while attempting to better educate and inform the public on applicable laws, and provide better maps and signage.
Supervisors were happy to learn the long awaited double seal coat paving of County I and Goodman Park Road were in progress, as were long needed improvements to County G.
A boat launch area on the Menominee River adjacent to the Hwy. 8 bridge in the Town of Niagara will need a state Department of Transportation permit, and this has been applied for. It will not require a permit from FERC, as had previously been feared.
Issues with the Twin Bridge Park beach area began earlier this year when a section of the boat landing/beach was converted to a beach marked off with buoys as a place where dog owners can swim with their pets, and where boats are not allowed. Villas said the buoys around the dog beach area serve a dual purpose, as swimmers inside the designated area are not in danger of being struck by boats.
Originally the buoys were placed in a way that left an area for boaters to land on the beach and picnic, teach youngsters to water ski, etc.
However, many boaters were not happy about being cut off from one of their favorite areas, and the buoys kept disappearing. Vilas said one set was found at High Falls Dam, miles downstream from the park. Vilas said he and the parks caretaker then decided that entire beach area there should be off limits for boats, at least temporarily.
In his e-mail newsletter to supervisors on July 18, County Administrator John LeFebvre said it appeared that some boaters were not happy with the buoys or the restrictions on boat mooring, and removed the buoys. This led to the decision that, "...until further notice, this area will be posted with signs restricting the the mooring of watercraft all together, regardless of buoy placement.
During time for public comment at the start of the meeting Mike and Mary Kay Pfeiffer, long time residents of the area, and Rick Schroeder, of Sobieski, but a long time property owner and visitor to the High Falls Flowage area urged the board to reverse the decision and let them and other boaters again enjoy access to the beach.
The Pfeiffers said they have enjoyed that beach/boat landing area for over 40 years, and have had family weddings and funerals there, and when plans are made for future use, "We'd like a seat at the table."
Mike Pfeiffer noted they had turned it into a dog beach, and commented, "Dogs don't pay taxes, people do!"
Schroeder said that beach was always busy, with people coming in by boat for picnics, swimming and relaxing. People on the Water Ski teams use the beach to teach their children to ski. Because boats can pull right up to shore, handicapped people could get into boats from their wheelchairs there, which they cannot do in many other places.
He said since the Parks Department put in the buoys and kept the boats out, that beach is empty except on Sundays and holidays.
"I'm not a big fan of having dogs on the beach," he added, and asked if everyone picks up after their dog.
Villas, in reporting on Parks Department activities, had reported they had placed dog posts with doggie do litter bags for easy pickup and disposal.
Supervisor Bonnie Popp, who represents the Twin Bridge area on County Board, said the dog beach is really a huge issue in her district. She asked them to check with the County Health Department on issues connected with children and dogs using the same swimming area, and then concluded,"You need to listen to these taxpayers and restore the beach area...It's a quality of life issue for them...Children in water sports don't have many places to get started,and this is one of them."
Supervisor Ginger Deschane, who represents the Crivitz area, also wondered about the push for a dog beach. "It's common knowledge that you take dogs to the boat landings to swim," she declared.
Villas said campers had asked him to provide a place where their dogs could swim. He said last year there had been rescue squad calls to the beach when boaters had come in too close to the swimmers. "We felt it was a compromise ...give kids a safe place to swim, and then we sort of tacked on the dog part."
He said they are doing a lot of things to get the issue resolved.
County Board took no action.
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