Coos County commissioners weren’t wild about the idea of cutting a hole in the fence at county park during a work session Tuesday, but they were open to finding ways to increase visitors to Lakeside.
The discussion came during a proposal from Lakeside city leaders about ways to allow ATV traffic to Osprey Point, an RV Resort and Marina on Tenmile Lake. Mayor James Edwards and City Manager Loree Pryce asked county officials to allow ATV users to pass through the fence of Tenmile Lake County Park to access the resort.
The two told commissioners the challenge is the city’s new ATV ordinance: City residents voted in November to allow ATV use on a route through the city from the county park to the Spinreel Campground, but rejected a measure that would’ve allowed ATV use on all city streets.
That means, in order to get between Osprey Point and the county park (and the designated route), ATV users would need to cross multiple blocks of North Lake Road — where ATVs are currently prohibited.
Commissioners weren’t excited about the prospect of using the county park as a shortcut, but offered some ideas to provide alternative access.
“We don’t want to be a throughway,” Commissioner Melissa Cribbins said. “North Lake (Road) is already a road performing a road function.”
Opening North Lake Road to ATV use would be one of the clearest alternatives, though Edwards and Pryce noted that residents along the road may oppose the added traffic. To help appease those concerns, Commissioner Bob Main said the county could partner with the city to consider grants to improve lighting, sidewalks and other features on the road.
“It seems like the logical choice would be North Lake (Road), having it open,” Main said.
The city has a few options to open the road to ATV use: It could approve a measure amending the current route, or it could expand ATV use to all city streets. A measure for the latter option might be in the works for the May ballot, Edwards told commissioners.
Commissioners and county staff also shared details about improvements planned to the Tenmile County Park to bring in more use – and tourism dollars. Public Works Director John Rowe said more attractive trees, new gangways and more space between RV spots are all in the works this year.
Edwards and Pryce, as well as a small handful of Lakeside residents who attended the work session, told commissioners the growing importance of ATV tourism to the city’s economy.
“Osprey (Point) is one of our biggest employers in town,” Pryce told the board. “It brings in transient occupancy tax.”
Those taxes and other tourism revenue are likely going to be important to Lakeside’s future as it stares in the face of financial challenges. The closure of the Shutter Creek Correctional Institution — a move proposed in Gov. Kate Brown’s recommended budget released late last year — could slash city revenues.
“That’s going to hurt us in a bad way,” Edwards said Monday.
That’s because the institution contracts with the city for its wastewater services, making up over a fifth of the city’s revenue, according to Pryce. The loss of that revenue could force the city to pass costs on to ratepayers by increasing monthly sewer bills.
Five Lakeside residents who attended the meeting – all supportive of expanding the city’s ATV access – told commissioners an improved county park and the new rules allowing ATVs on city streets could be a tourism boon for local businesses.
“I do think with our ATV ordinance passing, we will see more use out of that park,” said Jim Towan, who lives just outside of the city limits.
That possible tourism could be Lakeside’s future, Towan said.
“We all want Lakeside to flourish,” he said after the meeting.