OUR VIEW: Public dock plan reflects proper focus on access
The Mitchell City Council was scheduled to hear from the Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee on Monday night about a proposed public dock program for the lake.
The program would allow boat owners who don't live alongside the lake the opportunity to rent dock space, where they could leave their boat during the summer. It would save non-lakeshore residents from loading and unloading their boat dozens of times throughout the summer months.
We don't know much about boating or public docks, so we'll leave the specifics to the experts. But we do feel compelled to applaud the Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee for continuing to push for expanded public access at the lake.
Lake Mitchell is within the Mitchell city limits and should be enjoyed by lakeside residents, non-lakeside residents and visitors alike. It's a public resource.
Sadly, opportunities for public enjoyment of the lake were limited in past years.
That's changed recently, thanks in part to the Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee, the members of which are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council. The mayor, City Council and the Mitchell Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department also have worked to improve public access at the lake, and volunteers have been important, too.
Examples of recent successes include a rehabilitated and expanded system of wooded, dirt trails stretching from the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village to the electrical substation near the corner of North Main Street and Cemetery Road; a revamped Public Beach with better sand, terracing and a renovated bath house; an expanded system of paved bike trails stretching around much of the lake; and much-needed renovations to the Camp Arroya public-use area.
Is the public dock plan a logical next step? Perhaps.
Whatever the fate of the dock proposal, we hope the Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee and others continue pushing for public access. It's the right thing to do, and it could also have a great side benefit: As more people participate in hiking, bicycling, fishing, skiing, sunbathing and other activities at the lake, public concern for the lake also will grow. That'll make maintenance and improvement of facilities an easier sell.
It might even grow support for anti-algae efforts, but we'll save that complex issue for another day.