Proposed marina details unveiled at informational meeting

During an information meeting held March 24 about the proposed marina on Foster Lake, members of the public voiced concerns over impacts to water skiing, swimming and fishing as well as the public benefit of allowing a private developer to operate the marina.

Others commented on how important and useful a new marina would be to the community and boaters who don’t want to hassle with launching a boat every night.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is accepting written comments on a draft environmental assessment, which also includes recreation issues. Comments can be submitted either by mail or e-mail.

The Corps hosted the informational meeting at the Jim Riggs Community Center to introduce the draft environmental assessment, provide information about the proposed marina and answer questions. An audience of some 50 attended the meeting.

At the heart of the issues raised by members of the audience were concerns about water skiing is the no-wake zone, which extends 200 feet from the shoreline. If the marina is constructed, the no-wake zone would extend 200 feet from the edge of the marina.

The marina itself would extend 295 feet from the southwest shore of the lake, putting the no-wake zone 495 feet from shore if the zone remains in effect.

Corps officials Kat Beal, environmental steward supervisor, and Dustin Bengtson, parks operations supervisor, said the Corps and developers will ask the state Marine Board for a waiver from the requirement.

The marina plans include a wave attenuation structure to reduce the effects of wake inside the marina, eliminating the need for a no-wake zone around the marina.

The marina would eliminate swimming on the shore in the area of the marina, and fishing there would not be permitted during winter low pool. The area affected is the lesser-used section of the shore, called “the bench,” southeast of the stairs and parking area near the dam.

The marina, if approved, will be constructed by Foster Lake Investments, which has also built nine townhouse units and an RV park on the southwest bank of the lake.

Also addressing concerns about the public benefit in allowing the marina, Bengtson and Beal explained that it would provide recreational facilities that would otherwise be unavailable. The Corps cannot develop recreational facilities without a cost-sharing partner as recreation budgets decrease nationwide.

Additionally, the marina operator will take over operation and maintenance of Shea Point to the east and the parking area and restrooms for the bench area, reducing government costs. Corps maintenance and ranger staff members are located more than 50 miles away.

A feasibility study by the city of Sweet Home in 1991 showed that a marina would have a significant positive economic benefit to the community and that the Hanshew property, the site of the current proposal, is the most desirable location for the marina.

The study also showed it could not be completed without substantial subsidies of public funds, meaning it could only be viable as a part of a larger development on private land around the marina.

The financial and market analysis of the current proposal emphasizes the importance of additional income from associated developments around the project, according to the Corps.

The Corps has two processes it must go through before the marina can be constructed. The first, which evaluates whether the project is viable and desirable, is complete. The Corps is now in the second process, environmental assessment.

The Corps is seeking public comments on the draft of the assessment to ensure that it has not missed a critical piece of information about possible environmental impacts. If the Corps finds no significant impacts, then Portland District Commander Col. Steven R. Miles signs the final documents. After final negotiations on the lease agreement, Ron Musser, chief of real estate signs the agreement and Foster Lake Investments can begin construction.

The lease, if approved, would include approximately eight acres of water where the marina would be located and 13 acres of land that the lessees have agreed to maintain. The lease would be for 25 years, but an annual plan for use and development is required and reviewed annually by the Corps.

If approved, the marina would be constructed in phases beginning this spring and be partially operational by summer. The first phase includes approximately 80 slips. During this phase, eight courtesy slips would be available to all boaters on the lake for temporary access to marina facilities.

When complete next winter, the marina would have 148 slips, including 12 courtesy slips and 108 usable all year long. Slips would be available for daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal rates.

Slips can accommodate boats up to 24 feet, although longer boats can be moored as well. On-water services include a fueling station and a sanitary waste pump facility. On land, improvements would include a concessions stand, patio-picnic seating and a public restroom.

The draft environmental assessment is available for public review at Sweet Home Public Library and City Hall. It can be reviewed on the Web at http://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/pm/e/en_plan_assess.asp.

Questions or comments may be directed to Mr. Gregory Smith at (503)808-4783, [email protected] or District Engineer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District, Attn: CENWP-PM-E/Greg Smith, P.O. Box 2946, Portland, OR 97208-2946.

Comments are due by April 13 and should include the public notice number, CENWP-PM-E-09-02, as well as the title and date.

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