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Honeysuckle boat launch to stay put

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | July 14, 2022 1:09 AM

HAYDEN — Boaters and swimmers at Honeysuckle Beach will continue to share the popular summer site at Hayden Lake.

The Hayden City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to not move forward on proposals in a study on how to improve the area.

One solution that caught most people’s attention called for relocating the boat launch to the south side of Honeysuckle Bay.

“I do not see that moving the boat launch over to the far side of the lake would work at all,” said Mayor Scott Forssell. “Somebody's pulling out onto Hayden Lake Drive with a boat trailer, you're asking for accidents to happen.”

He said the alternate site would also hold fewer boats.

“When you get the overflow, you've got another set of problems,” Forssell said.

About 50 people attended the meeting at City Hall and listened to a 40-minute council discussion on the Honeysuckle Beach study, which was more than a year in the making.

Led by the city, developing the study involved interviews, surveys, open houses, public outreach and working groups.

Overcrowding, traffic congestion and lack of parking were the top issues, according to the report’s executive summary. Some expressed concerns about the mix of boats being launched at Honeysuckle in proximity to children in the swimming area.

Councilman Ed DePriest said the issue “by far” received the most attention of any before the council.

“It is a very difficult situation,” he said.

DePriest was concerned about the number of studies that would need to be done before moving the launch, making a new one, and the legal issues and ramifications that could come from it.

“I think we must engage in those studies,” he said.

A new boat launch on the south side of Honeysuckle Bay would mean driving pilings and dredging a boat channel in the bed.

“I also have major concerns about potentially cracking the lake bed and creating a big drop,” Forssell said.

Councilman Matt Roetter said overcrowding at Honeysuckle Beach was an issue 20 years ago. He said there have long been concerns about trucks backing up to launch boats and kids in the neighboring beach and swim area.

“I don't know that anybody has been hurt, but I think there's potential for injury,” Roetter said.

He said there was really only one way to make it safer, which was by reducing the number of people using Honeysuckle Beach.

He said he opposed moving the boat launch and opposed a shuttle system that would involve parking in the city’s sand pit as an interim solution.

“In my mind, that would increase usage,” he said.

Roetter offered a solution: Higher boat launch fees for out-of-staters and charging them for parking.

“I don't want to maintain,” he said. "I want to reduce the usage. We have an asset that is way overused."

Councilman Roger Satterfiel said the city can’t afford to pay for continued studies on the lake.

“I think we have more priorities where we can spend our money,” he said.

He suggested the city look at trying to make Honeysuckle Beach “a better experience, a more-pleasant experience,” and address any safety concerns.

Councilwoman Sandra White said she received a lot of feedback on this issue.

White opposed a shuttle system and agreed with Satterfiel that the city should spend money on projects with more-pressing needs rather than studies.

She agreed improvements at Honeysuckle Beach were needed.

“I think that the lake has quite a few issues with overcrowding,” she said.

Forssell said the overcrowding occurs mainly on weekends a few months of the year.

“I would encourage the council to consider an alternative here: Simply live with what we have and try to make some improvements to the existing situation at hand.”

The council agreed.

It also voted 4-0 to have a future workshop on reducing usage at the beach.

One man leaving the meeting was pleased the council took no action on moving the boat launch.

"It was an asinine idea, anyway," he said.

photo

A boat is tied to the dock at Honeysuckle Beach, while another heads out to Hayden Lake, next to the swimming area on Wednesday.