County considers plan for cabins, cafe at county lake

The Marion County Commis?sion Monday came close to tacit approval of new rental cabins to be located at Marion County Lake, with Commission Chairman Bob Hein promising the builders, ?We?ll take a look at it, and get right back to you.?

Debra and Jim Whitfill first came to the commission months ago with a proposal to build cabins ranging from rustic sleeping quarters to kitchenette cabins to ?scout? group cabins. They also proposed to put a breakfast cafe and snack bar in one end of the community lake building, and build a boat rental business.

Park Superintendent Steve Hudson said he has been looking at all these proposals by the Whitfills with concerns for expense of utilities development for the county, and the possible interference with normal public use of the hall.

The Whitfills also list Brad and Anita Seacat as partners in at least part of the project.

Hudson said when the Whitwells first discussed their project, he was considering development of restrooms and potentially even showers at the heated dock area south of the lake trailer residences. Since then, he said, he favors installation of a pre-built concrete vault-type restroom with pump-out tanks that don?t require a sewer.

The vault restrooms, which are used at federal reservoirs, also double as storm shelters, he said. Use of these would negate installation of a sewage pump station which the Whitwell cabins would have needed to share if located in that area.

Hudson said to install ?flush-type? restrooms would cost a minimum $25,000 plus a sewer line.

Dan Crumrine, chairman of developments for the Lake Improvement District, said a sewer pump station at that location would probably cost anywhere from $25,000 to $35,000.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said he and Crumrine had looked at the idea of a sewer lift station to the west of the trailers that could be installed more easily with less expense to tie into the existing sewer line that goes cross-country to the Marion city sewage lagoons south of town.

Hudson said all of this led him to think of a triangle of land north of the trailers where all utilities already exist. He said the cabin project could be down-sized to begin with the location of four to six cabins in the triangle under large established shade trees.

Commissioner Dan Holub said this had an advantage because it would let the Whitwells get started.

?It will prove their feasibility over two to three years to see if the demand for them is there for more,? he said.

Hudson said there may be room for one more cabin immediately south of the cabins.

Omernick said old outdoor toilets closer to the shore there were boarded up in 1988 by resolution of the Lake Committee because of proximity to the water and potential pollution.

Dallke asked Paul White, a member of the Lake Board who was among eight interested lake reisidents and department heads also at the meeting, to take it back to the board to see if they could vote a variance on building the cabins.

The commissioners said they may carry former ideas into consideration of possibly as many as three concrete vault flush-type restrooms around the lake for public convenience as well as safety for storm shelters.

County Appraiser Cindy Magill said the cabins will need to be ?surveyed out,? have long-term leases and be registered with the deeds office to be taxed as private property located on private land.

County Attorney Susan Robson said all of the dealings looked workable.

Hudson further suggested that the boat rental area, which would focus on slow-moving craft such as canoes, kayaks, hydrobikes and pontoon boats capable of floating six to eight people, be moved from the proposed location near the dam to the opposite north end of the lake. He said this would keep the craft potentially operated by less experienced people away from the higher traffic and faster motor boats and water skiing.

Both the Whitfills and the commissioners said they could be favorable toward beginning development with the cabin locatons and boat rental location as proposed by Hudson.

The use of the lake house as a cafe appeared to raise more concerns. Hudson said although the building has kitchen facilities in both ends, there are groups of people who rent the hall with expectations of using both kitchens, 19 such groups already booked for this year, he said.

Debra Whitfill said if the cafe used one kitchen, liability insurance would prohibit anyone but cafe owners or employees from being in it.

Holub said the commissioners have been considering having insulation blown into the walls of the building to increase its winter-time use. He said such availability probably would make use much greater.

White and Gordon Pendergraft questioned why the commissioners would consider use of a public facility to promote a private enterprise.

Hudson added that ?it was built for the people, and now we?re talking about taking it away from the people.?

Holub said he knows reservations have to be honored, but, he said, the commissioners had been looking at the cafe as a service to the people to increase use of the lake hall.

Whitfill said if allowed use, he could see putting in an extra refrigerator and hotplates outside the kitchen for public use.

Several persons in the group discussed that if a cabin could be built, a small cafe outside the lake house also could be built.

White said, ?You also have to consider with all this expansion that Steve (Hudson) can only do so much.

?The more you people have out there, the more you wear him out. He?s not a superman. The more people you attract to the Lake, the more supervision you are going to need on the water too. People kind of make their own rules driving on the water, and it?s only what, a lake of 150 acres??

Hein said the commissioners would favor doing the project in some form. ?We?ll work with you,? he said.

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