No Date Yet for Dam Debate
Almost 17,00 people have signed a change.org petition posted seven days ago that asks Texas politicians to keep Canyon Lake Dam’s service road open for foot traffic.
Still, there’s no word when Jen Crownover, Comal County Commissioner, Precinct 4, will actually sit down with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and other stakeholders to try and overturn the corps’ highly unpopular decision to close what is arguably the area’s most-beloved “trail.”
Clay Church, a spokesperson for U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Forth Worth District, said a meeting’s in the works but there is no timeframe for either that or the possible reopening of the road.
Crownover did not respond to a request for more information about the proposed meeting, but confirmed on her Facebook page that she’s contacted many “levels” of USACE and that they’re brainstorming possible solutions.
“I’m confident that we will come up with something,” she said. “We have many motivated partners, and a community that I truly will believe will step up when asked.”
Who Started It?
Meanwhile, many Canyon Lake residents took to Nextdoor.com and several Canyon Lake social media sites this week to apologize for demonizing the individual whose summer 2017 query about dam access for mobility devices allegedly sparked the investigation by the U.S. Access Board.
The federal agency ensures access to federally funded facilities and keeps the name of all complainants strictly confidential.
But the anonymous complainant reached out to Debbie England, administrator of the well-regarded Take Back Canyon Lake Facebook page. Her May 27 post about the man’s plight was widely shared on other Facebook pages as well as on NextDoor.com.
The man apologized for the unintended consequences of what he thought was a simple query about gaining access to Canyon Dam via mobility devices.
“When I got my mobility device, one of the first things I wanted to do was go across the dam to see for myself all the beautiful sights I saw in pictures on Facebook,” he said. “When we asked for someone to open the gate we were told that no mobility devices were allowed.”
He contacted the ADA, which oversees the Americans with Disabilities Act. The agency suggested that he reach out to his congressional representative for help. Then, sometime in May, he received a less-generic response from the U.S. Access Board, an independent federal agency created in 1973 to ensure access to federally funded facilities.
He said the agency told him it launched an investigation in June 2017 and was “engaged in discussions and negotiations with the USACE” about several points of controversy.
In a written follow up to a voicemail, the agency roundly criticized the USACE for a “contentious discussion over what to do next,” the anonymous resident said.
All of this proved overwhelming.
“I truly regret my part in this. I should have just taken my lumps and been done with it. I am just sick over all of this.”
Canyon Lake resident Valerie Lynn Visser thinks the USACE, not the elderly resident, is to blame for the controversy.
It’s had decades to comply with federal disbility laws, she said.
“The gentleman who started this year’s inquiry was not the first, he’s just the first whose inquiry was acted upon,” she said. “Once this issue is resolved, and access is again granted to everyone, this man should be revered for the positive change he has brought for the disabled in our local community and our tourist community.”