Salted with Sharks

Signs Installed to Mark Beach Road

In Breaking, Community Alert, E Beach, Gov't Watch, Green Elbertians, Infrastructure and Planning, Law & Order, Open Season, Transportation on June 28, 2013 at 1:19 am

With authorization from Council, Ken Bonney today installed stakes and signage to demarcate the Village’s platted road, known as Lakeside Boulevard. Over the years, the undeveloped stretch has become by turns rutted and covered over with soft sand, and several byways have been cut through use. The long-standing issue of off-road dune driving, which has included frequent attempts by some people to use trucks and other vehicles to climb the bluffs on either side of the unmarked road, came to a head in early spring 2012 when several calls by concerned citizens prompted Diane Jenks to ask Bonney to install a gate just past the last house near the beginning of the (unmarked) road. That gate was removed by Eric Van Dussen, put up, removed again, put up, and removed a third time (not, Van Dussen said, by him). Since last year, a Beach Committee led by Jenks has met several times to discuss solutions to the offroading problem and address the concerns of environmentalists, property owners, and the beachgoing public.

At recent Council meetings, Ken Bonney was given the go ahead to stake out the road and apply for a permit to have the road graded and developed with gravel. How the actual development would be paid for, no one knew. At the June meeting, council heard a presentation by Cheryl Gross, a member of a group of residents calling themselves the Dunes Neighbors. Gross’s presentation outlined a plan to raise funds to develop the road and bring other amenities to the beach area. The first step in that process occurred today, June 27.

Bonney said he wanted to make sure there was plenty of room for people to park for Fourth of July fireworks, so he placed some of the “No Motor Vehicles” signs a bit wide of the actual platted roadway. Ken noted that it’s almost impossible to drive along parts of the official road area unless you have a four-wheel-drive vehicle. He said the grading, demarcation, and improvement of the road is intended to make it easier, not harder, for most vehicles to enjoy access to the beach. There will be angled parking in several spots along the 50-foot-wide Village right of way. The road plan jogs in places, while still remaining within the platted area, to accommodate trees and other plantlife that have established themselves over the years, Ken said.

At the very end of the platted road, stop signs and a Road Ends sign were placed. Beyond this point is private property and protected dune. Fines of up to $1,000 may be levied against violators of the state and federal law against driving off-road in this natural area. Bonney said he hoped the sheriff’s department, who he said he had invited to visit while he posted stakes and signs, would apprise themselves of the location of the road. Sheriff Schendel, former sheriff Rory Heckman, and representatives from the DNR have all said at various times that the law was almost impossible to enforce in part because no one could tell where the road actually is. Ken Bonney, Village Council members, the Dunes Neighbors, and others hope this will be the beginning of the end of a contentious problem that has made it difficult and even dangerous for some residents and visitors to reach the beach.—Emily Votruba

 

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