June 25, 2014 - By Meg Peters
Review Staff Writer
The Lake Street boat launch has become an issue that neither Lake Orion village police department nor administration can efficiently control to the satisfaction of village residents.
Under a resolution that was adopted in 1985 the launch was meant to be open only for four weeks in the spring and four weeks in the fall to allow village residents time to launch and pull out their watercrafts.
According to Police Chief Jerry Narsh, the police department has turned into a marina.
"We don't have the staff or ability to run a boat ramp," he said at the public hearing regarding the launch Monday night. "It's morphed away from the seasonal launching to daily, sometimes hourly use."
In the mid to late 1990s, administration began allowing village residents to leave a $20 deposit at the police department, get the key, use the ramp, and return the key within an hour.
Over the years more and more residents have taken advantage of the key. Some have made duplicates for personal use. Some have even changed the lock at the launch, Narsh said.
"I'm unhappy we are not able to deliver the service in the way it needs to be handled either," he continued.
Multiple North Shore and Lake Street residents voiced their opinions at the public hearing, and many even offered to be part of the solution. Many residents volunteered to do maintenance on the ramp, ensure it is clean and secure and report abuses.
The village council tabled the item and are expected to address it again at the next council meeting on July 7.
"The challenge is this: What is the exact legal, lawful use of that ramp? How do we administer it the best to serve those residents? That's the complexity," Narsh said.
Narsh also said it cannot be left open full time because non-village residents and village residents would use it continually, causing rapid deterioration to the launch.
Sometimes there is only one full time officer working on a weekend day shift, Narsh said. Sometimes residents have grown weary waiting for the officer to finish what he is doing, drive to the police department, and fetch the key.
Village manager Darwin McClary was directed by council to look into several options that could allow the ramp to be open without requiring the assistance of a paid village employee.
One idea is to use a combination lock and give village residents the code. Another idea is to research other communities with a government-owned launch and see how they handle it.
Narsh encourages village residents to call McClary or himself with any ideas at 248-693-8391 ext. 101 or 248-693-8321 respectively.