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Club wants moorings or money

Sun., June 17, 2007

A yacht club either wants its $4,200 donation returned or Kootenai County to anchor about six mooring buoys in Blue Creek Bay so the public can tie up boats and camp.

Property owners in the narrow inlet near Higgens Point, which Interstate 90 crosses, oppose the buoys, fearing a major safety hazard created by allowing large boats to moor together and essentially narrow the already skinny bay.

“It’s an accident waiting to happen,” said Gayne Clifford, who lives along the bay that property owners contend is already congested.

Maverick Yacht Club Commodore Bill Tatt said his group isn’t trying to create controversy and they don’t care where the buoys are located.

“We’re doing this for the general boating public,” Tatt said. “We are just asking for action or our money back.”

The Kootenai County Parks and Waterways Advisory Board will make a recommendation Monday to the Kootenai County Commission.

The advisory board heard from both sides Tuesday, carrying forward a conversation that started in 2005 when the yacht club raised and gave $4,200 to the county for the placement of public mooring buoys anywhere the county deemed appropriate.

Besides safety concerns, some people questioned the participation of board chairman Jim Aucutt, who is a member of the yacht club.

County Waterways Director Nick Snyder said Aucutt acknowledged his membership but determined it wasn’t a conflict of interest because he has no financial stake in the decision. He said a county attorney agreed with Aucutt’s position.

Aucutt wasn’t available for comment Thursday or Friday.

After the yacht club, which has about 35 members, donated money for the buoys, the former county waterways director researched the lake and proposed placing the buoys in Blue Creek Bay.

The county then applied for a permit from the Idaho Department of Lands but withdrew the application in March 2006 after property owners in the bay expressed the same safety concerns.

Snyder said it’s possible the commissioners may ask him to research the lake again for alternate mooring locations before it decides to refund the money.

The 9 a.m. meeting with the Kootenai County Commission is at the county Administration Building, 451 Government Way.


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