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Crownover Announces Dam Alliance

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There’s hope, dam walkers.

Two months after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) barricaded Canyon Lake Dam’s popular service road without warning, a new Facebook page called “Dam Community Alliance” promises good things are on the horizon.

“Want to start walking the DAM again?? Huge announcements coming soon!!! Buckle up…we’re gonna need your help. More details soon!” a post to the page promised late Friday evening. The new group is officially called Canyon Lake Dam Community Alliance.

The group’s mission statement: “The Dam Community Alliance is committed to bring the citizens of Canyon Lake together for fun, fellowship, and the betterment of our community. Our first mission is to get the necessary improvements made so that the walkway across the dam can be reopened.”

Writing on her official county Facebook page, Jen Crownover, Comal County Commissioner, Pct. 4,  said “Many of y’all have wondered if we have forgotten about our beloved walks on the DAM.  The answer is, NO!! Please follow this page for the latest updates. Some major announcements will be coming very soon on ways you can help, and events you will NOT want to miss!!”

A link on comaltrails.org connects to a PayPal page soliciting donations for Canyon Lake Dam Trail. Comal Trails Alliance works to create trails connecting communities and provides opportunities for education, health, preservation and enjoyment of the natural resources of Comal County.

Dam Dispute

The Corps closed the road unexpectedly on May 21, citing safety concerns. However, the U.S. Access Board said the Corps refused to make reasonable and cost-effective modifications following an official complaint about lack of access by mobility devices.

Crownover subsequently spearheaded a closed-door meeting in early June aimed at ending the impasse between the two groups. In early July, she said that as an outcome of that meeting the Corps was working on rough drafts of modifications of plans that would resolve the situation.

However, she warned a citizen committee would be necessary to “hash out” fundraising efforts  that would underwrite the cost of repairs.

At her June meeting were representatives from Water-Oriented Recreation District of Comal County (WORDCC.com), Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA.org), Comal County Engineer Tom Hornseth as well as USACE officials from both Canyon Lake and Fort Worth District attended the meeting. A representative from U.S. Senator John Cornyn’s office was there.

USACE’s decision to close its road — which the U.S. Access Board categorizes as a trail — was resoundingly criticized by residents, who like to walk the dam and enjoy the scenic vistas only available from there. A petition posted on change.org, asking politicians like Sen. Ted Cruz to keep the dam open, quickly drew 18,400 signatures.

Shortly after the road was closed — with no explanation — Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook explained the USACE was dialing back on “well-intentioned operational decisions that unfortunately excluded users with disabilities.”

However, the U.S. Access Board, an independent federal agency created in 1973 to ensure access to federally funded facilities, said in a May 29 email to MyCanyonLake.com, that the USACE “flatly refused to make the trail accessible” and only needed to widen pedestrial access points to 36 inches and provide greater maneuvering clearance to bring the road into compliance with federal regulations.

Dave Yanchulis, who works in Public Affairs, said the USACE also reclassified the Canyon Lake Crest Trail as a road which, the Corps argued, would exempt them from meeting Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) standards.

USACE did not provide additional details about its decision to close the road, which was sparked by a May 22, 2017 complaint filed with the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) alleging that the pedestrian access points to reach the Canyon Dam Crest Trail were not accessible to those who use wheeled mobility devices, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

Despite lengthy communication between USACE and the U.S. Access Board aimed at resolving the issue, USACE closed the road last month. U.S. Access Board said they learned of the closure through media accounts.

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6 Comments

  1. Jeri Porter
    July 30, 2018 at 9:20 pm — Reply

    Perhaps he regrets making the complaint and, of course, the ensuing repercussions. The fact is he DID make the complaint–perhaps he was speaking for others in the same boat as well. Unless you have experienced what the handicapped need to face on a daily basis it is easy to dismiss their condition as mere folly. And, as for the disabled making “their own decisions”, it would probably be very enlightening to you to spend some time in a wheelchair. I’m pretty sure none of them decided to spend their lives living in a mobility impaired condition.
    We live in a litigious society. If the Core did not take all precautions to protect the public, in many cases from themselves, your tax dollars would be spent on lawsuits and court decisions.
    While visiting the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland I marveled at the height of the entry way, probably 500 to 1000 feet to the base, with no guard rails. At the time I thought to myself “this would never fly in the US” because the public is so oblivious to extreme hazards. Yep–we should be responsible for our own actions but the legal system in our country has stepped in to see that we can sidestep that responsibility—and be rewarded in the process.
    Perhaps everyone needs to sign a waiver that they will not hold the Core responsible if they just happen to fall off the side. Simple solution, only expense would be keeping up with the waivers
    BTW, if the walkway were to be made wheelchair accessible, perhaps there would be even more visitors….just sayin’!

  2. Cynthia Spilker
    July 29, 2018 at 5:11 pm — Reply

    I miss that walk so much. It was one of the reasons we moved here. We bring all out of state visitors there. Just to show how beautiful our lake is. It was all such a shame.

  3. Donna M Davis
    July 26, 2018 at 8:00 am — Reply

    I fail to understand why after decades of the public and albeit the Local citizens of the community “Canyon Lake” are being denied one of the biggest highlights to enjoy what it only took one single complaint while awaiting the changes to appease this complainant, why not just have those who still desire to get their enjoyment of the view by gaining their physical excercise to ask for (a) The signature to wave of any responsibility while crossing and in addition (b) To raise the necessary funding to bring the Dam access road into compliance for those that the ADA that feel their rights have been denied by charging a small fee from the public and by doing so could very quickly gain the funding in short order to finance the changes that have been the cause of this much loved area.???

  4. James Moore
    July 17, 2018 at 4:28 pm — Reply

    Must be Democrats.

    • Jeri Porter
      July 29, 2018 at 4:59 pm — Reply

      That’s a very unnecessary comment Mr. Moore. The US Corps of Engineers is a governmental agency, the pathway was closed as a result of a complaint by a citizen with disabilities. There appears to be some move afoot to resolve this to the satisfaction of everyone. Why involve
      your biased opinion???

      • What a Joke - on us
        July 29, 2018 at 6:46 pm — Reply

        OK – I’ll agree that the “comment” was irrelevant. But the nonsense about “a citizen with disabilities” is equally irrelevant.

        If you’ve paid attention to this dysfunctional episode at all, you’d know that said “citizen with disabilities” has admitted that he’s embarrassed at the result of his “complaint”, and that, had he known what would happen, he never would have made it in the first place.

        This is another example of our federal government’s political correctness at its finest – find something that’s some kind of problem for somebody, and dumb everything down for everybody – nevermind that there’s always the option to the “disabled” to make their own decision.

        All that’s necessary to make the dam accessible to everybody would be to widen access to wheelchair width – like we see a lot of wheelchairs out there in the first place. We don’t – that’s the first joke.

        But no, we see COE thinks it has to go the full monte, and put guard rails out there, and all that senseless crap, and CHARGE US FOR IT. Hello? Not hapenning.

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