Orono City Council Votes To Keep Docks On Big Island Park

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A group of veterans hoping to keep docks on Big Island Park in Lake Minnetonka were awarded a partial win Monday night.

At a meeting Monday, the Orono City Council said the docks can stay, but they’ll be paid for through private donations.

Earlier this month, area veterans were absolutely outraged when the city debated selling these docks.

Orono installed the handicap accessible docks in 2005. They were designed especially for disabled and aging veterans to make it easier for them to get on and off of boats at the Lake Minnetonka park.

City leaders had planned to sell the docks to save the $8,000 a year it costs to install and remove them. But after hearing from many residents of Orono and veterans Monday, the City Council voted to keep the current docks and keep them up with help from donations from families, the Orono Lions and Northshore Marina.

Residents present at the meeting Monday argued, if there are no docks to provide safe access on and off of boats, those veterans who depend on wheelchairs and walkers would be prevented from visiting.

“If you have a boat, if you’re disabled, if you’re even elderly, or you just want to not get wet when you get off a boat or fall in the water, you need a dock and you need a stable wide dock. And the docks they have today are ten feet wide,” Orono resident Brad McDonnell said.

Some also argued the city’s plan to sell the docks violated the park’s intent of equal access that is written in the park’s management plan. The mayor of Orono, however, argued the park is regional and that the city isn’t in the regional park business.

It’s not just veterans who use these docks, but also the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Water Patrol and the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District.

For now, these docks will stay in place as the city looks for a more permanent solution.

City council decided to form the Big Island Committee and include members of the Parks Commission and Planning Commission to help reassess what to do with the docks in the future.

Moving forward, they will be getting input from the public to help them make decisions.

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