Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

County Awaits Word on Reopening of Boat Ramps

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

County Awaits Word on Reopening of Boat Ramps

Article excerpt

Byline: ANNE SPONOHOLTZ

In spite of ongoing appeals from the city of Keystone Heights, it will probably be some time before public access to area lakes is possible.

Terry Jeffers, program coordinator with the county's Parks and Recreation Department, said the problem is two-fold. Two boat ramps at Camp Blanding located off Florida 21 just north of the city limits that access Lake Magnolia and Lake Lowery have remained closed because of military operations, and water levels at Lake Brooklyn and Lake Geneva have forced those boat ramps to remain closed.

And although Jeffers said the boat ramp at Lake Brooklyn probably stands the best chance of opening, even that may be sometime in the future. Jeffers said the county has a cooperative agreement with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for most ofits boat ramps. This means, he said, if the county agrees to allow the public to use its boat ramps free of charge, the Fish and Wildlife department will in turn pay for the upkeep of the ramps.

And he said a recent review of the Lake Brooklyn ramp, by both county and wildlife officials, indicates that the water level at Lake Brooklyn is still too far from the ramp to justify the work necessary to bring the ramp up to standards.

"We are keeping an eye on it. They're checking it and we check it. And when it [the lake] gets up, it will be opened," he said.

Olen Campbell, president of the Lake Brooklyn Civic Association, said that organization is not getting involved in the boat ramp issue, but on a personal level, he sees pluses and minuses to the ramps reopening.

Even though the Lake Brooklyn boat ramp is not in the city limits, the Keystone Heights City Council supports the boat ramp being open. In November Mayor Lyndel Hale, who also serves as chairman of Keystone Heights Water Watch, following unanimous support from the council, wrote a letter encouraging the county to take steps to open the lake to public access. However, no steps to begin that process were evident.

"I'm disappointed [the ramp is not opened]," Hale said. "I know it might take a little extra work, but I think it should be opened. …

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