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Lake & Rivers Local News

Canyon Lake Residents Plan Meeting to Discuss Boat Ramp Issues

Comal County Commissioner Donna Eccleston, seated, far right, wants to amend Comal County's easement agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. File image.

An informal group of Canyon Lake residents advocating for change at Comal County-operated boat ramps will meet from 2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 29 at Canyon Lake Village Clubhouse, 1191 Skyline Dr., to talk about possible solutions for county commissioners who are in the process of rewriting 1994 rules to deal with 2021 problems like overcrowding, trash, safety, access, signage and parking.

The meeting is open to the public.

The nine county-operated boat ramps were originally built as amenities for small neighborhoods developed as long ago as the mid-1960s, not to accommodate the thousands of people who flood Canyon Lake on weekends during the summer season.

In June, Pct. 1 County Commissioner Donna Eccleston said she was updating the language in the county’s rules but did not plan to make any substantive changes.

Her announcement sparked immediate criticism, mostly from Canyon Lake residents, who argued the new language would restrict access to boat ramps by making it illegal for anyone other than boaters and wealthy homeonwers with lakefront property to access the shoreline.

Commissioners considered varioius solutions during public comments at two June meetings and during a special workshop session, but made no decisions headed into the busy July 4 weekend.

On Tuesday, Pct. 4 Commissioner Jen Crownover announced on Facebook that Eccleston placed an action item on the court’s Thursday agenda that would change language in the original agreement to allow the county to charge a fee to use boat ramps.

On Thursday, Canyon Lake residents packed Commissioners Court once again to discuss these proposed changes to the county’s Canyon Lake easement agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which controls the lake and shoreline access.

Pct. 2 Commissioner Scott Haag also shared with the court proposed signage that would support law enforcement — which is stretched thin trying to enforce rules that aren’t immediately clear to visitors — by explaining, for example, what an exclusion zone is around boat ramps.

However, County Engineer Tom Hornseth said he received notice from the Corps on Wednesday asking for changes to the easement agreement that would ensure that all funds raised at boat ramps would be used for improvements there.

“We received notice yesterday from the Corps of Engineers that they have reviewed that document and they’re wanting to make some changes to that document,” he said.

Commissioners decided to table the proposal pending further input from USACE, but not before also listening to a suggestion from former Water Oriented Recreation District of Comal County (WORD) board member Donald Graves, who has lived in Canyon Lake since the late 1970s.

He said more clarification is needed about the kind of fees the county might assess at boat ramps.

“I’m just trying to get some answers and get some information published so we can stop all of the B.S. that I’m hearing,” he said. “…You are doing a good job but we need to get as much information out to the public as we can before you take a vote on this.”

Eccleston reminded the court her proposed language, which came from USASCE, isn’t just about fees. The county needs control over the property it supervises and pays to maintain.

“It’s not just a collection of fees, it’s other stipulations that are contained withhin the easement,” she said.

Canyon Lake resident and kayaker Gloria Meehan, speaking afterwards on behalf of an informal group that believes in a collaborative approach to resolving boat ramp issues, decided to schedule a meeting about next steps to help commissioners as they try to move forward.

“As Canyon Lake residents, we’re all concerned with access, safety and parking,” she said. “All other issues — including any potential boat ramp fee — kind of dovetail into these three main categories. And there are many lake residents who want to help improve and come up with reasonable solutions for the many resources Canyon Lake proivdes to Comal County.

“In fact, the Commissioners Court does listen to us when we come with our ideas, because we know there are better outcomes when we all work together,” Meehan said.

Refreshments, including nono-alcoholic beverages, will be provided at the Aug. 29 meeting.

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