Does my headline reflect what Skip wrote here? I apologize for not attending the park-board meeting myself. Too many meetings, too little time. Skip and others who attended are invited to provide further explanation as comment below.
Under current rules, is a fisherman or kayaker who slips into the water supposed to sink instead of swim?
The old rule had to do with Lake Fayetteville having been created as a drinking-water supply. Since Beaver Lake water became our city supply in the late 1960s, the rule has been silly.
If that guy from wherever thinks the lake is too muddy and silty for swimming, I suggest he compare it to a southeast Arkansas stream with agricultural runoff or the Mississippi River anywhere south of Minnesota.
I hope no own suggests that he can run his off-road vehicle anywhere on a city trail, particularly not on the Lake Fayetteville nature trails. His comment about that was sort of threatening. I catch him doing it, I take his picture. I post it here with a few links to experts discussing the evils of off-road trail driving.
That would be a way to put more silt and mud in the lake.
Sounds like the park administrator may still be concerned about spending money to encourage people to enjoy a fine lake in a different way. But the cattle-grazing lease on the Cummins property suggests that the city won't need money for Southpass Park for a decade, so it might be feasible without threatening the pace of creating the landfill memorial park.
But what is the problem? If people want to swim in Lake Fayetteville, let them enjoy it.
Just don't create a situation where the city is liable if someone comes up with a condition that could evoke a lawsuit, such as pretending the bottom of the lake is safe for barefoot wading or the water is safe for drinking.
If a sign is needed, it should simply say "Swim at your own risk. Sink at your own risk. Your choice. Please hit 911 on your cellphone before choosing to sink."
The Morning News
Local News for Northwest Arkansas
Parks Board Approves Swimming In Lake Fayetteville
By Skip Descant
THE MORNING NEWS
FAYETTEVILLE — Lake Fayetteville could be the setting for swimming events in the next year or two.
The Fayetteville Parks and Recreation Advisory Board green lighted a proposal to change city ordinance to allow for swimming events at the lake. The Fayetteville City Council must grant final approval.
The proposal targets triathlon-like events, but could eventually open the door to casual swimming.
"Once the swim beach is built then we could begin to allow for swimming there," said Wade Colwell, a member of the advisory board.
Constructing a sandy swim beach could have Lake Fayetteville function as an alternative to the Wilson Park pool for public swimming as well as make the lake more marketable for swim events, Colwell said.
However, the costs for building and maintaining this type of project could quickly balloon, said park officials. Public swimming areas require restroom facilities, proper signage, and state water-quality testing standards, said Leif Olson, a planner in the city's internal consulting division.
"It's a huge capital outlay," Olson added.
A swim beach would be a "step two," park officials said. "And that's not what we're talking about," said Connie Edmonston, director of Fayetteville Parks and Recreation.
The current proposal would allow for special event swimming. In order to coordinate swimming events, the city must conduct water quality tests prior to the event, receive proof of liability insurance and establish user fee rates.
Though maybe the most obvious obstacle to get past is Lake Fayetteville's muddy bank, making it not incredibly desirable for swimming, said Bruce Dunn, an triathlon event organizer.
"The area is not really ready for prime time," Dunn told the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. "I wouldn't really feel comfortable putting them in the water with all the silt and muck."
Which is why Dunn would like to start off with organizing an "off-road festival event" to make use of the lake area's extensive trails.
"Having anything inside a city, wherever we go is a real plus," Dunn said.