Keep Waneka Wild
Keep Waneka Wild
Some residents have petitioned the Lafayette City Council to allow people to use personal self-propelled watercraft like paddle boards and kayaks at any time during daylight hours.
We are opposed to this for a variety of reasons.
1) The petition reads: "We have a beautiful lake right here in town that goes underutilized 70% of the year." We strongly disagree with that. Waneka Lake is used 100% of the year by many species of waterfowl. It is one of the areas of Lafayette that provides wildlife preservation and habitat, something that has become a core of our identity. It is adjacent to the Greenlee Wildlife Refuge, an area that also provides habitat, food and nesting areas for many species of birds.
Waneka, Greenlee and the Thomas Farm together create a larger ecosystem that includes water, food, nesting materials and nesting locations. These are crucial not only for local species, but also species that are here at only parts of the year and species passing through on their migratory path.
Waneka is the centerpiece of one of Lafayette’s efforts to preserve and enhance the natural and wild parts of town. That use has been given a higher focus than allowing people on the lake.
2) There is liability to be considered. The area must be staffed in order to provide safety for the people on the lake. If someone is injured, or drowns, the city would be liable. Just as the Water Park must have staff there for safety, this would hold true for Waneka.
This leads to costs, including liability insurance and hiring additional trained staff at the boathouse. Plus, other associated costs would be incurred as this would put additional strain on the boathouse itself. Who would pay for this? A few possibilities: money taken from other recreation programs, a lessening of other programs, money allocated from other uses moved to this, or the potential of a tax increase.
3) What would happen once the lake was open for this use? Would people be out there at all hours, regardless of if the boathouse was open and staffed? Look at all the social media posts about dogs off leash to give you an idea of the answer to that. Again, liability to the city (read that as all of us) could be huge, and the impact on the wildlife dramatic.