County reviews parks ordinance

September 29, 2005 12:00 am
A new parks ordinance may help park users manage busy periods at Hewitt and Holcomb parks. (File photo).
A new parks ordinance may help park users manage busy periods at Hewitt and Holcomb parks. (File photo).

By MIKE FERGUSON

Of the Baker City Herald

A county parks ordinance designed to keep order at what are sometimes busy boat docks and camping facilities at Hewitt and Holcomb parks received no opposition during an initial public hearing Wednesday.

One boater, however, had some suggestions for improving the ordinance.

Fred Hamrick of Baker City said that a proposed prohibition on leaving boats unattended at the parks' three boat ramps for any more than 15 minutes should be extended 100 feet on either side of the ramps.

The reason, he said, is that the dock areas can become so cluttered that boaters must try to pull up along the bank in order to take on any shoreline passengers.

"That makes it almost impossible to pick up a shore person without damaging your boat on the concrete ramp," he told commissioners.

He also asked the county's Parks and Recreation Board to explore installing anchor points that could be used to tie up boats during the low-water periods that often follow the Fourth of July weekend.

That's the last day that Idaho Power Corp. is required under an agreement with the county to keep Brownlee Reservoir at full pool; the company may draw the reservoir down after that date for such purposes as flood control or fish passage.

Hamrick recommended that "No Boat Parking" signs be posted along the affected areas adjacent to the boat ramps.

"Common decency and the signage would say to prepare your boat before the launch," he said.

Courteous boaters, he told commissioners, pause in the parking lot to prepare their boat for launch, rather than waiting until they're in the more crowded boat ramp area to ready their craft.

"It's not easy" to keep the boat ramps clear during the busy summer months, he said. "In the heat of summer it's a constant shifting barrage onto those ramps. Sometimes all it takes is one guy" to interrupt what should be a smooth flow of people putting into the reservoir in the morning and going home or back to the campsite in the evening.

Members of the Parks and Recreation Board were also on hand to support the proposed ordinance, which they passed unanimously Sept. 13.

Ed Elms said the length of the ordinance — it's nine pages — is necessary to spell out what's unacceptable behavior exhibited by a tiny minority of park users.

"It's a lot of regulations for just three to five percent of people," he told commissioners. "The other 95 percent or so are fine."

"It adds clarity to the use," he added. "When you have people cooking meals in the restrooms, that's something you just can't anticipate. It's the parks' goal to create an atmosphere and provide a pleasant facility."

Board member Carl Kostol said that while the ordinance may appear too restrictive to some people, some of the rules can be relaxed on days when the parks are not so busy.

"The (parks) manager will have the authority to control (how the rules are enforced)," he said. "This is mostly for the big crowds and for the few obnoxious people."

Elms added that the ability to control inconsiderate behavior will become even more important as Holcomb Park developments occur, beginning next year.

The county has received a state grant that will pay a little more than half the estimated $521,763 cost to install a septic system, a new well and a new water delivery system at John Noble Holcomb Memorial Park.

Plans call for 38 boat trailer spaces, a tent camping area, two mooring docks, a day-use picnic area, showers and restrooms, and 16 RV sites.