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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Boat Launch Plan In Conflict

Plans to upgrade the public boat launch at Liberty Lake are:

A means to help both lake and launch.

A misuse of public money.

A bad idea for a neighborhood already beleaguered by boat trailer traffic.

The answer all depends on whom you talk to.

A new ramp, a dock, a fishing pier with handicapped access, new toilets and redesigned parking lots are included in the proposal.

“It’s going to be a nicer facility and people will be there longer,” said John Nunnery, Spokane County shorelines administrator.

“What a waste of money,” said fisherman Mike Misner on Monday, looking around the near-empty parking lot. “It’s always been like this. What are they going to do? They haven’t acquired any more land have they?”

No, “they” - the state Department of Fish and Wildlife - haven’t. But the agency’s proposal would improve a location that’s been public fishing access for about 40 years.

Estimated cost is $175,000, said Ronald McIvern, the engineer who has designed the project.

A public hearing on the plan is scheduled Aug. 6 before the Spokane County hearing examiner.

Plans are to replace two crumbling launch ramps with one state-of-the-art ramp, and add a 10-by-85 foot boarding dock. The new ramp site is at the east end of the property, at the opposite end from the existing ramps.

A fishing pier along the central section of shoreline - now covered with large jagged boulders - will offer better access to anglers in wheelchairs.

The parking lots will be redesigned so that grassy swales absorb stormwater now running into the lake. Eight to 10 parking spaces will be lost with addition of those swales.

Neighbors in the densely settled area have mixed reaction to the plan. Some have renewed their pleas for the state to sell the property and relocate in the county park at the south end of the lake.

“That’s a non-issue,” Nunnery said.

“It’s a classic case of NIMBY-ism,” said Madonna Luers, spokeswoman for Fish and Wildlife.

There’s more to it than that, some neighbors say.

Third Avenue, which leads to the launch, is so narrow that school buses don’t even come down it, said neighbor Ralph Larsen. Improving the launch area in hopes of more public use seems counterproductive, he said.

Neighbor Loralee Lashbrook supports the project. She also said that after seven years, she’s resigned to problems at the launch next door. She tells of watching JetSkis cross right on top of swimming children, of running to hold onto a boat for elderly solo fishermen who can’t handle their boat, truck and trailer all at the same time.

“We’ve learned to live with it,” Lashbrook said.

One of the winners in this project would be Liberty Lake’s water quality.

The pavement now slopes toward the launch ramps. Rebuilding the lots, with the slope angled toward grassy drainage areas will keep the oil and other fluids out of the lake.

“It looks good to us,” said Lee Mellish, manager of the Liberty Lake Sewer District.

Is there any chance that neighborhood resistance can stop the project?

Not likely, Nunnery said. The project would bring the much-used launch into compliance with state law. “This is the very essence of what the Shoreline Management Act is all about,” he said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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