Saturday, September 14, 2013

DNR, Waukesha County Stumped Over Required North Lake Public Access

It's the state government mystery that can't be solved: how to provide legally-required access to North Lake - - the biggest lake in the County right now without that access.

Jeez, it looks like now the DNR's hands are tied, so literally there will be fewer waves on the lake and in the heart of deepest, red-voting Walker country, too.

This blog has been covering this bafflement since March, 2007.

It's taken years, but the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has finally won in court what it could not arrange less litigiously on the shoreline of one of Waukesha County's largest bodies of water - - a public boating launch facility on North Lake. 
Details here
Wisconsin's Public Trust doctrine, dating to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and then folded into the Wisconsin Constitution has been interpreted to guarantee public access to all the state's waters. 
North Lake, at 437 acres, was one of the state's largest without a public boat launch. 
Private property property owners held up the deal for years, but it looks like the public, whomever and from wherever they may be, will soon be able to put a pleasure or fishing boat into North Lake. 
Let's hope they get a warmer reception than a Milwaukee African-American family got last year in the nearby Town of Merton, when two off-duty North Lake volunteer fighters, including the now ex-chief, used a handgun and German Shepherd to run the Milwaukeeans off a public, river bridge fishing spot.

In 2010, no progress:
The public trust doctrine, embedded in the state Constitution, guarantees public access to all Wisconsin bodies of water, but this North Lake issue has dragged on for years. And I'll bet this isn't the end of the obstruction.
How come?
But back to that episode involving a gun and a dog: Could that mentality have anything to do with it?
A fire chief and a volunteer firefighter were charged Friday with disorderly conduct as a hate crime for allegedly using racial slurs against a black man who was fishing in the Oconomowoc River. 
North Lake Fire Chief Terry Stapleton also was charged with obstruction, for allegedly providing misinformation to sheriff's investigators, and firefighter Mark Weber was charged with felony reckless use of a weapon, Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher said. 
The men, both white, had defended their actions in the Tuesday confrontation with fisherman Mark Bratton, 41, of Milwaukee, in the town of Merton.
More about that mentality from now retired from her post as local Waukesha columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: here.

And about the multiple lessons of the incident, also from her.


Anonymous said...

From the last link in the post.

Franklyn Gimbel, the attorney for Weber, told a reporter for this newspaper that Weber has "tremendous remorse." He also said that this was a case where "in hindsight, when sober and deliberate, one realizes that a bad decision was made."

I think I've seen that name somewhere.

Gareth said...

Alcohol, racism and guns --What could possibly go wrong?

Anonymous said...

The bigger scandal is that developers are using condominium plats TODAY to create wholly private lakes (rather than subdividing lots which kicks in public access requirements). Clear Lake in Oneida County outside of Three Lakes is a huge lake, now being developed, with zero public access, not even a path to the lake. We need new laws, but it's not likely to happen soon.‎