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Hudson City Council votes 4-3 to return sailboat dinghies to the dike

The Hudson City Council voted 4-3 on March 25 to once again allow sailboat dinghies to be stored on the dike road, albeit with some new restrictions.

Mayor Alan Burchill was forced to make the deciding vote after the alderpersons deadlocked on the issue.

Lori Bernard moved to accept the most recent plan for dinghy storage that came out of the Public Works Committee. Kurt TeWinkel seconded the motion and Randy Morrissette II also voted for its approval.

The motion was opposed by Council President Rich Vanselow and alderpersons Mary Yacoub and John Hoggatt.

Before the new plan could be discussed, the council had to rescind the portion of an ordinance adopted Sept. 17, 2012, that prohibited dinghies from being kept on, or tied to, the dike road.

Yacoub moved to rescind the ban on dike dinghy storage, saying she hoped it would lead to a discussion of the dinghies being kept on a dock that Gordy Jarvis of Afton-Hudson Cruise Lines had previously offered to build.

Yacoub said the dock was the best option, but indicated that if Jarvis didn't receive Army Corps of Engineers approval for it, she could support the Public Works Committee plan.

The motion to rescind the dike dinghy ban for discussion purposes passed on a voice vote with no opposition.

The debate over the Public Works Committee plan was considerably more lengthy and complex.

The plan is to create five areas along the dike where groups of up to 10 dinghies will be stored. Posts with a chain running between them will be installed, and the dinghies will be attached to the chains.

There will be one set of posts near the low-water mark of each area, and another near the high-water mark.

The plan approved by the council also specifies the size and color of the dinghies allowed on the dike. They are 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 used for dinghies won't be allowed on the dike.

Bernard advocated for adoption of the plan. At an estimated cost of $12,000 for materials and labor, it is the least expensive of any of the plans for dinghy storage that the council has considered, she said.

She said it also addresses the appearance of the dike, which was the council's main concern at the beginning of the whole debate. Plus, it is the plan that seems to have the most overall approval from sailboat mooring holders, Bernard said.

Yacoub wanted the council to return to the idea of having Afton-Hudson Cruise Lines extend its dock to provide a place for the dinghies to be tied.

TeWinkel said sailboat owners had made clear that that option wasn't acceptable to them.

"I don't think it would be used," TeWinkel said of the dock storage.

When pressed later, he said mooring holders consider it unsafe to row from the dock to their sailboats. He said the flat-bottom dinghies get pushed about in the wind.

Mayor Burchill disputed whether rowing the dinghies a greater distance was more dangerous that climbing down the rip-rap on the side of the dike road to get to the small boats.

New lease for cruise line

TeWinkel and Bernard said that Jarvis is no longer planning to build a dock with room for dinghy storage.

Earlier in the meeting, the council approved a new 10-year lease allowing Afton-Hudson Cruise Lines to dock up to three riverboats along the dike.

Jarvis left the meeting after the lease was approved, and wasn't around for the debate about dinghy storage.

The lease allows the cruise line to dock the Grand Duchess and one other of its riverboats in Hudson Harbor through the winter.

The cruise line's fee for extending a dock from the dike road was increased to $5,000 a year for five years. The city reserved the right to increase the fee after the five years.

The previous fee was $1,100 a year.

Council members indicated that Jarvis intends to build a new dock for the riverboats, but his dock plans require approval from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Yacoub and Burchill said the dock application still includes the extension for storing dinghies. They said Jarvis previously was agreeable to adding space for dinghy storage. They thought he still would be if the city requested it.

Council President Vanselow said before the vote that he didn't want to invest $12,000 in the Public Works Committee plan if it wasn't the final solution. He suggested allowing mooring holders to use the dike as they have in the past for 2013, while the city waits to find out if Jarvis' dock application is approved.

Earlier, Jarvis said the dock might not get built in 2013. He said he didn't know how long it would take for the Army Corps to act on his application.

"So we would be back to winches on trees and canoes," Bernard said of Vanselow's suggestion.

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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