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Published: Thursday, 6/26/2003

Olander regulations roil some boaters

BY MIKE JONES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Rebecca Schroeder-Perry gives thanks that just beyond her backyard, the calm waters of the lake at Olander Park beckon.

Although her days can be hectic, she said, every now and then a half-hour or so may become free and she, often with her neighbor, can tote their kayaks over to the lake for a brief bit of relaxing exercise.

The activity was soothing until recently, when a Sylvania police officer patrolling the park told the kayakers they owe a $2 launch fee.

A park employee walked to the northern portion of the lake to tell them the same - they each owe a fee.

She told trustees of the Olander Park System last week that the fee seemed inappropriate because hand-powered boats don't require any additional expense to the system.

A fee for launching bigger boats at the park's boat ramp, she said, was reasonable because there were costs involved in building the ramp and maintaining it, but, “recreational boating is being discouraged'' by the fee.

She acknowledged that the amount of money charged was relatively minor, but that it might not be for a couple with two or three children who want to use the park two or three times a week.

She also noted that the need to pay the fee at the front booth at the Sylvania Avenue end of the park could take away most of her brief free time because the pedestrian access point near her house is at the other end of the park.

Trustees have agreed with her first point and have removed the $2 fee for launching boats into the lake, but have increased other requirements for people using watercraft.

Gary Madrzykowski, director of the system, said people will have to sign a form that shows that they have read water-safety rules and leave a driver's license or similar identification with park employees before they can enter the lake.

Boats can only be launched at the boat launch area, and children under 16 must have an adult with them before they can enter the water with a boat, according to the new policy.

It's good news for those who will save the $2, but not good for Mrs. Schroeder-Perry, who said her primary concern was having to break up the somewhat spontaneous nature of her kayak outings because of the park's procedures.

She questioned why boaters have to jump through hoops to enjoy their sport when skaters and bicyclists are free to circle the lake on the park's paved path.

Those people can be injured in a fall and young children can be hurt on the park's playground, but no special requirements are set for people involved in those activities.

Mr. Madrzykowski said he could sympathize with Mrs. Schroeder-Perry.

“She came in with two problems and got one taken care of, but the other one got worse,'' he said.

Nevertheless, he said, the new policy is in place for safety concerns for everyone.

“We want to collect that I.D. so that at the end of the day, if we have someone's identification, but we don't see anyone on the water, we know we might have a problem.

“Other people using the park can get hurt, but we'll find them. Those could even be serious, but an accident on the water can be a tragedy,'' he said.

Mrs. Schroeder-Perry said she understands those concerns, but would like to return to her easier use of the park's lake.

She said she hopes to contact trustees to see if some agreement can be reached.



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