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Dinghy storage on the dike road is still prohibited

The saga of the sailboat dinghies will continue until at least the next meeting of the Hudson City Council.

Monday night, a motion to suspend council rules to allow reconsideration of a ban on the small boats being stored on the dike road failed on a 3-2 vote.

A two-thirds majority was needed to suspend the rules, City Attorney Catherine Munkittrick advised.

Alderperson Lori Bernard moved for the suspension of the rules. She wanted to reconsider the resolution prohibiting dinghies on the dike that was approved last September. She was joined by Alderperson Kurt TeWinkel and Council President Rich Vanselow in voting to reopen the issue.

Alderpersons Mary Yacoub and Randy Morrissette II opposed the action. Alderperson John Hoggatt was absent.

Bernard wanted the council to act on a new recommendation from the Public Works Committee to create five areas along the dike where groups of up to 10 dinghies could be stored.

The plan is to install posts with a chain running between them that the dinghies would be secured to. There would be one set of posts near the low-water mark, and another near the high-water mark, for each storage area.

The cost of the project is estimated at $12,000.

The committee also recommended specifying the size and color of the dinghies allowed on the dike. They would have to be about 55 inches wide and no longer than 10 feet, and white or cream in color. Canoes, kayaks and other types of watercraft wouldn't be allowed.

The discussion began with Yacoub asking for the decision to be postponed until the full council was there for the vote. Morrissette seconded the motion.

Bernard responded that she had changed plans to be at the meeting, and there was no way to predict when all six alderpersons would be at a meeting.

She also said the sailboat owners need to know what the situation will be for the coming season.

"It's time to get this resolved," she said.

Bernard added that resolving the issue would take recognition that the dinghy storage issue is "very different" from the decision remove private docks from the river.

She asked to "at least" be able to present the plan that came out of the Public Works Committee.

"Frankly, I'm insulted at what has come out of committee," Yacoub replied.

She said the council had voted 4-2 to prohibit dinghies from being stored on the dike.

Council President Rich Vanselow said he voted for the removal of the dinghies, but was open to considering a new system for storing them on the dike.

Munkittrick said the resolution approved last September included a statement that the council would be exploring other solutions to the dinghy storage issue.

She advised that the council needed to suspend its rules to reconsider the earlier resolution, and that required a two-third vote - four alderpersons in support of reconsideration.

An alderperson who supported the September resolution could have asked for reconsideration of it at the next council meeting, but no one did, Munkittrick explained.

"You have a motion adopted. You have a procedure for changing it that wasn't used," she said.

She said the vote prohibiting dinghy storage on the dike will stand unless two-thirds of the council votes to reconsider it.

After the motion to suspend the council rules failed, Mayor Alan Burchill indicated that another vote will likely be taken at the next council meeting in which all the members are in attendance.

That will leave Hoggatt to decide whether issue is reconsidered.

"We have not solved the problem at all," Bernard said.

Yacoub said the Afton-Hudson Cruise Lines had provided a solution with its offer to build a dock for the dinghies.

TeWinkel replied that the dock solution wasn't acceptable to mooring holders.

Yacoub said she warned the council before it voted to order the removal of the docks north of Lakefront Park that if it decided to go down that road the principle would apply to all riverfront property in the city.

"I feel I'm the only one being consistent," she said.

Bernard asked if the council members who recused themselves from the vote on the private docks - Morrissette and Hoggatt - should also recuse themselves from the vote on the dinghy storage issue.

Munkittrick said that in her opinion the dinghies and the docks are two different issues.

She said someone can file a complaint if they feel an alderperson violates an ethical standard. She said the council's Finance Committee would determine if the alderperson has a conflict of interest.

In another split decision, the voted 4-1 to keep the fee for mooring a sailboat along the dike road at $560 for 2013.

Morrissette said the fee should be doubled.

Public Works and Parks Director Tom Zeuli said the Park Board recommended no increase in the fee. He noted that no parks fees have been increased for this year.

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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