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No solution yet to dinghy storage issue

A solution to the issue of dinghy storage for sailboat owners is still to be found after the Hudson City Council on Monday night rejected a plan recommended by the Park Board.

The Park Board endorsed building two or three pathways or stairways from the dike road to the shoreline of the St. Croix River, where rock beds would be created to hold the small rowboats used to get to the sailboats moored offshore.

The plan also included the option of the city building an 84-foot extension to the existing dock on the dike road that would be used for storing dinghies.

The recommendation failed on a 5-1 vote, with Alderperson Kurt TeWinkel, the council's representative on the Park Board, being the only council member to support it.

Some members of the council were opposed to any storage of dinghies on the dike, while others indicated that their primary concern with the plan was its cost.

Mayor Alan Burchill said the construction could cost up to $150,000.

"How can we justify spending $150,000 for 49 people," Burchill asked.

The city leases 49 sailboat moorings along the dike road for $575 each per season.

Last September, the council voted 4-2 to prohibit sailboat owners from keeping their dinghies on the dike road. Council members were concerned about the appearance of the dike, liability and consistency with an ordinance that prohibits parking boats on city property for more than four hours.

In November, the council approved a plan to store the dinghies on an extension to the dock where the Grand Duchess riverboat is kept in the summer. Afton-Hudson Cruise Lines owner Gordy Jarvis was to have built the extension and recouped his costs through increased fees charged to the sailboat owners.

The City Council abandoned that plan, however, after the mooring holders objected to it. They said the trip from the dock to the far end of the 1,300-foot-long mooring field was too long.

It appears the council is back to square one on resolving the issue following the failure of the latest proposal.

Following Monday night's vote, Alderperson Lori Bernard appealed to council to further discuss the issue and come to a decision in the near future.

"I think you should have a definitive answer to that," agreed City Attorney Catherine Munkittrick.

"I think we're back to policy. That seems to be the rub," said Alderperson John Hoggatt.

Earlier in the meeting, Hoggatt said the council has made a number of decisions in recent years that don't favor a river town.

"I think we're missing the boat -- literally," Hoggatt said. "A lot of people in this town are here for the river."

He cited decisions to prohibit the parking of empty boat trailers on city streets, including near the Lake Mallalieu landing, and the forced removal of private river docks as examples.

Burchill asked if anyone on the council was in favor of allowing dinghies to be stored on the dike.

Bernard and TeWinkel said they were open to it. TeWinkel qualified his support by saying a uniform system is needed.

Council President Rich Vanselow suggested building a dock for dinghies and leasing it to a mooring holders association.

Hoggatt indicated he wouldn't support that approach unless the First Street homeowners who were forced to remove their docks were also given the option of leasing a dock from the city.

"I'm with John on that," said Yacoub, noting that her proposal for city to build a dock north of Lakefront Park and lease slips to boat owners was rejected by the council.

Yacoub also indicated that she was concerned about the council failing to make a decision about dinghy storage in time to implement a solution for this year's boating season.

Roger Johnson of Woodbury, Minn., who served as spokesperson for the group of mooring holders in attendance, said they weren't happy.

"They've given us half a permit. And at the next meeting they'll want to increase our fees," Johnson said.

The council discussed the issue at length, and heard from a few of the mooring holders toward the end of the discussion.

"It doesn't have to be a big costly deal for people to put their dinghies where you want them to be," said Harvey Chichester, a Hudson resident and mooring holder.

He said a simple system of providing places for sailboat owners to tie their dinghies would be sufficient.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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