The expansion of the slow, no-wake hours on the Wolf River in Fremont is not sitting well with everyone. In fact, some want the issue discussed again.
“How do we get that on the agenda?” Judy Schreiber asked during the July 12 meeting of the village board.
Village President Dan Sambs replied, “You would have to request that it be on the agenda for the next meeting.”
Schreiber said, “Consider it requested then.”
The next meeting of the village board is set for Tuesday, Aug. 9, but Village Clerk Karen Looker said the agenda for that meeting has not yet been set. The issue might be on the board’s September agenda.
Schreiber was among those who spoke about the slow, no-wake hours during this month’s board meeting.
The expanded hours went into effect at the beginning of this boating season.
This means that on the portion of the Wolf River that runs through the village, the slow, no-wake hours begin at noon Friday and are in effect until midnight Sunday.
Previously, those hours began at midnight Friday.
“When it passed, we were aware it would take awhile,” Sambs said for people to be aware of the change in hours. “It took awhile 15 years ago when we passed it originally.”
The village board voted 4-3 last October to amend the slow, no-wake ordinance.
The amendment came after several years of discussion on the issue.
An advisory referendum on the Nov. 4, 2008, ballot asked village residents whether the ordinance should be amended. That advisory referendum passed with a vote of 253-153.
In April 2009, a proposed ordinance amendment went before the village board. It resulted in a tie, thus killing the proposed amendment.
A year and a half later, it then passed.
Schreiber, who has lived in Fremont for 22 years, is asking the board to rescind its vote.
She said the fact that the village is the only local municipality on the river that starts its slow, no-wake hours at noon Friday makes it confusing to boaters.
Tax-paying businesses already have a short season, and she believes the expanded slow, no-wake hours could place a burden on them.
Others asked the village to embrace the river lifestyle and to educate boaters about safety instead of passing more laws.
Members of the village board continue to disagree about the matter.
“I voted against it, because of enforcement. It’s not getting enforced,” said Per Dobbe.
Kathy Gaynor said she voted in favor of the amendment because of the result of the advisory referendum. She believes it is a safety issue and said it will take time to educate boaters. “The majority of the residents wanted it,” she said.
Jeremy Bonikowske is a deputy with the Waupaca County Sheriff Department’s Water Patrol. One patrol boat covers 30 miles of river, he said.
“If there’s something you want to look at,” Bonikowske said, “it should be to look at getting another boat and more manpower.”
He said there is a lot of river for one patrol boat to cover, especially when it is busy.
“It can literally take three hours to get through the village of Fremont when there are a large number of complaints,” he said.