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Annual payment option offered to kayakers in Lewiston

LEWISTON – Last summer, the Village of Lewiston made its first foray into charging kayakers to use its boat launch.

After complaints were lodged, the village lowered the launch price from $7 to $4.

Despite lowering the fee, the complaints have lingered – including an online petition last month which garnered more than 300 signatures.

On Monday, the Village of Lewiston took another step to help with costs, approving a yearly permit, which will let kayakers pay a fee of $20 for unlimited launches. The daily rate will remain at $4.

However, Harbor Master John Ritter, who advocated charging a fee, said there are lingering issues regarding kayakers. He told the board the biggest problem is not launching kayaks, but large groups of cars that unload and tie up the docking area.

Ritter said that some kayakers ignore signs that ask them to be prepared to launch.

“They don’t tie up the launch at all. We can slip them in between the boats with no problem,” said Ritter of the kayaks. “The problem is with vehicles. If you have 20 kayakers going out at one time, that’s 10 or 12 cars. They park all over the place and you can’t move a trailer until they are done. Sometimes it takes 45 minutes to an hour to unload all their equipment.”

Ritter said he can handle about three cars at a time, but said he is being completely ignored by kayakers who won’t move their cars when a boat trailer is waiting.

“A guy wants to put his boat in and they won’t move their cars. They all stand around and discuss who’s going to drive to Youngstown and who is going to leave their car in Lewiston. Sometimes it is ridiculous,” said Ritter.

But he added that a large number of kayakers do follow the rules and put their kayaks in and enjoy the water.

He told the board he doesn’t have a problem with the kayakers themselves, just the ones that tie up the ramps

“If you are not going to charge the kayakers, then how can you charge the boats. It’s not fair,” added Ritter.

Deputy Mayor Bruce Sutherland, who lobbied for even lower costs, agreed to the fees, but said he would like the money to be set aside in a separate fund so that at some point in the future they could have a kayak launching area with separate parking.

In another matter, Village Clerk-Treasurer Amy Salada announced that tax bills will be mailed out on May 29, and said that village taxes for 2015-16 will begin being collected on June 1.

The board adopted a budget of $3.35 million last month. The rate was officially set at $7.38 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, up from the current rate of $7.26 per $1,000.

The Village of Lewiston’s end-of-the-year meeting was set for 6 p.m. May 27. The board also announced that it will not hold work session meetings on the first Monday of the month in June, July and August.