A proposal to ease restrictions of personal watercraft on Arcadia Lake was discussed this week at the City Council. The Council will decide whether a new ordinance is needed or to continue limiting the use of personal watercraft.
The craft, such as Sea-Doo or Jet Ski, are powered by a pump jet and generally meant for one to three people who ride or stand on the craft.
City Councilwoman Elizabeth Waner said the city needs more time to study Edmond resident Tommy Hannan’s idea to allow personal watercraft recreation in other parts of the lake besides the current limited area that is cordoned off by cable.
Waner said a more comprehensive study of the lake is needed to include campers and fishers who value a quiet atmosphere free of distractions.
Lake users need better signage to direct them to the proper placement of putting watercraft in the water, Waner said. Age restrictions are a concern, she said. Currently a 13-year-old may use watercraft as long as somebody is watching the youngster from the shore, Waner said.
“I think we could do a better job of enforcement with those issues,” Waner said. “In the three or four times I was out there, I saw violators of our ordinance already.”
Waner also said she would value the input of Parks and Recreation Director Craig Dishman, who is new to the city staff. She and Councilman Nick Massey suggested that the city offer a trial period for adjusted watercraft usage based on the staff’s findings before the spring boating season begins.
City Councilwoman Victoria Caldwell said she does not support the full lake usage of personal watercraft. The usage area is currently limited to a lake area that is nearby Carl Reherman Park, an area under construction about a half-mile east of Air Depot at the southeast end of 33rd Street.
“What I would be interested in is exploring Nick’s idea of relocating that area with the idea that, No. 1 there is a ramp there already, and the ramp that would be built would be inside the corralled area is delayed,” Caldwell said.
Area residents disagreed with Hannan’s comment that noise pollution would not interfere with the quiet lifestyle the residents currently enjoy. Safety issues for those using the lake was another point of disagreement.
“I can tell you at the OU Medical Center just over the last year, we have seen head injuries,” said Dr. Jane Fitch who works at OU Medical Center. “We’ve seen spinal cord injuries and we’ve seen amputations related to personal water craft, and or personal water craft collisions with boats.”
Councilman Darrell Davis said the question is how to enhance the lake’s usage for different types of users without destroying what is already in place.
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