Wednesday , May 17, 2017 - 5:00 AM9 comments
The proposed prohibition gets one more discussion and vote on Tuesday, May 30. The Weber County Commission will not meet May 23 because two of the three will be out of town. If approved May 30, the new law takes effect 15 days later.
“Year over year, we’ve seen the usage at Pineview and surrounding beach areas grow as we’ve seen the population grow . . . and we think that’s a great thing and we want to continue to preserve that and maintain a safe environment for people to recreate and play in,” said Weber County Public Affairs Director Holin Wilbanks. “As we’ve seen users increase both on the beaches, on the trails and on the water, we’ve seen increased safety concerns.”
The proposed ban — nixing alcohol except in Anderson Cove and Jefferson Hunt campgrounds, marinas and on the water — grew from several months of discussion among a broad swath of stakeholders, including nearby residents, boaters, anglers, and representatives from the state Division of Wildlife Resources and the U.S. Forest Service.
“The vast majority of our resources in the Upper Valley really are dedicated to lewdness, public intoxication, fights, drownings, loud parties, DUIs and fatal crashes.,” said Lt. Brandon Toll of the Weber County Sheriff’s Office. Many of those incidents involve alcohol, he added, “so having this ordinance pass really would make it a more enjoyable and safe place for people to recreate.”
Doug Allen, a Huntsville resident and member of its town council, spoke in full support of the ban. Several homeowners in Huntsville have wrestled with noise, trash and traffic that come with nearby beach revelry every summer.
Although no one spoke against the ban, commissioners heard pushback on other reservoir-related issues.
Uintah resident Steve Luger said he had no problem with the alcohol ban because “I get to clean up after that all the time.” But he noted that boaters policing themselves deserved much of the credit for increased safety on the water last summer. Luger also had a bone to pick with his elected officials about the short notice people had previously received concerning changes at the reservoirs.
“What I do want to know is we’re not going to continue trying to slide things by, and keep it under, then put it in at the last minute. That I don’t care for,” Luger said.
Commissioner Jim Harvey pledged “better communication and timeliness on emails” moving forward.
Luger also supported the idea of a season pass for anchoring watercraft at night on Pineview. Last summer, the commissioners approved a $15 nightly fee, and on Tuesday, they gave initial approval to a $130 season pass. That ordinance will also receive a second hearing and vote on Tuesday, May 30.
“I don’t want to have to go back (and pay) every single night. I just want to pay once and be done with it,” Luger said.
Charles Gordon, of Layton, said he had no problem with the actual fee, but questioned where multiple fees go and what they actually fund.
“My concern is, I’m paying this money and it’s supposed to be for someone to be there. Where are they?” Gordon said, referring to Weber County Sheriff’s deputies and their visibility at campgrounds and around the reservoir. “There need to be reasonable fees, and we need to see something for it.”
Commission Chairman James Ebert said the fee was based on service requirements and law enforcement staffing. And those funds did not become available until late 2016.
Huntsville Councilman Allen pointed out that permit purchases would provide a database of boaters on the lake.
“In my lifetime, almost 60 years, the population of Utah has gone up tenfold,” Allen said. “And with the exception of the one boat ramp at Anderson Cove and the Spring Creek parking area, to my knowledge there has not been a single addition to the recreational facilities in the Upper Valley.”
Ebert said recent changes are just the beginning of efforts to maximize the asset.
“Eventually, hopefully, we can create and build better amenities, and Pineview becomes a destination like Huntington Beach and some of these amazing waterways around this nation,” Ebert said. “That’s what we want Pineview to be, this sparkling experience that is in the Upper Valley.”
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