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Boat ramp on radar for McHenry park

Adding one could help solve Johnsburg-Lakemoor dispute

Published: Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 10:54 p.m. CDT

McHENRY – A dispute between Johnsburg and Lakemoor over a proposed boat launch has some McHenry officials wondering if installing a boat launch at Charles J. Miller Riverfront Park could address the issue.

The idea was raised at a strategic planning meeting involving McHenry elected officials and city staff this week.

A boat ramp has been a part of the plans for the park since 1988, but when the city went to install the park, new rules adopted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blocked the ramp, Deputy City Administrator Bill Hobson said.

The policy change limited the number of boat ramps and multi-user piers in the Fox Lake-Chain O’Lakes region to the ones that already existed. If someone wanted to install one, another one had to be removed.

Boat lifts are not included in the restriction.

“One of the major ecological threats [in the area] was too many boats,” said Michael Murphy, a regulatory project engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The rest of the Charles J. Miller Riverfront Park project, however, moved ahead, Hobson said. The gravel parking lot and road was developed with space to accommodate boats, and a path leads down to a carry-in area for canoes and row boats.

Finishing the project has always been on the city’s radar – four years ago, an effort to purchase rights to install a boat launch had been pursued but fell through – but at Tuesday’s meeting, Alderman Bob Peterson wondered if an ongoing dispute between the villages of Lakemoor and Johnsburg could be resolved by installing a boat ramp at the McHenry park instead.

The village of Lakemoor plans on installing a boat ramp where Old Bay Road approaches Pistakee Bay, widening the cul-de-sac and adding parking. It purchased the rights to install a boat launch for $25,000 from Fairmont Shores, a restaurant in Lake Villa, said Matt Dabrowski, the village’s director of community and economic development.

While Old Bay Road is in Lakemoor’s jurisdiction, the houses that line it are in Johnsburg, and some residents worry that the ramp will increase traffic along their quiet street. The Johnsburg Village Board subsequently issued a resolution opposing the project, which is awaiting approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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