By Michael P. Neufeld
Crestline, CA – The decision by the Department of Safety of Dams to order San Bernardino County to lower Lake Gregory an additional 2-3 feet has drawn mixed response from businesses and residents.
LAKE GREGORY RECREATION COMPANY
Tim Colvin, Vice President Southern California Operations for The California Parks Company — operating as Lake Gregory Recreation Company — provided ROTWNEWS.com with the following statement:
“We are working very closely with the county, to insure that the guest experience at Lake Gregory will not be diminished in any way.
“This minor, temporary lowering of the lake will not affect our ability to continue to offer a first class experience to all users of this beautiful, essential recreational facility.”
SUPERVISOR JANICE RUTHERFORD
Second District Supervisor Janice Rutherford told ROTWNEWS.com:
“I am disappointed that the state is mandating the lowering of Lake Gregory, but I understand the state believes it is necessary for public safety.
“When I came into office in 2010 I immediately made the dam a priority and we’ve been pushing the state since then to approve a repair plan. I am committed to completing the project as quickly as possible because it is essential to preserving and protecting Lake Gregory and its recreational and economic value to the mountain communities.
“During my discussions with state officials there was talk of lowering Lake Gregory by as much as 20 feet, so I’m thankful the mandate didn’t go even further and that the five-feet reduction will have minimal impact to the swimming areas.
“The County is working with CalParks to adapt amenities to the new lake level, and the Lake Gregory Improvement Committee will continue meeting with County staff to ensure the dam repair project stays on track and that the community remains informed about its progress.”
RICK DINON – LAKE GREGORY IMPROVEMENT COMMITTEE
“The Lake Gregory Dam repair is necessary because there was a construction flaw which makes the dam vulnerable in the event of a major earthquake on any of several faults in the area,” Rick Dinon from the Lake Gregory Improvement Committee stated.
“While the risk of loss of life is not large,” Dinon continued, “there is some and also a property risk. However, it is also true that if the dam is not repaired properly, the dam could be lost and that could be permanent given the cost, time and restrictions on rebuilding.
“Regardless of the expense to the County,” the committee chair added, “the inconvenience to residents and visitors, and the necessary traffic detours, this repair is in everyone’s best interest and the best course among difficult options.”
MIKE JOHNSTONE – GOODWIN & SON’S MARKET
ROTWNEWS.com contacted Mike Johnstone from Goodwin & Son’s Market and he indicated the lowering of the lake is “just another way the DSOD doesn’t listen to the impact their actions have on our community.”
Johnstone went on to say, “They think taking the lake down three feet won’t have an impact on our community but it will have a drastic impact because the swim beach area is only 8 feet deep in most areas. The Lake Gregory Improvement Committee and the County have shown them the impact would be significant and it obviously went on deaf ears.
“If they need the lake level lowered in order to do the ‘needed repairs’ then they should lower it right before they do the repairs.” Johnstone added. “Ideally that happens right after the swim season closes.
“Their current decision will have a huge impact on the tourist season that all of the businesses in this community rely on to sustain the winter months. This just shows the DSOD representatives have no care for this community and our livelihood,” Johnstone said.
“We are very disappointed and will be in contact with the county to see what else we can do to reverse this decision,” Johnstone explained.
“YIKES! It’s already low,” Raquel Comstock, a local resident who hikes around the lake on a regular basis, stated.
Nancy Pickinpaugh, operator of the North Shore Inn, responded to a request for a statement with the following:
“When I bought this hotel it had lake views. They refuse to trim or cut the trees that have grown and are blocking our “lake views”. Now they want to lower the water level in SUMMER.
They say they are going to assure us it won’t effect our business? And how do they propose to do that? We would like to know.Why don’t they just build a new wall in front of the existing Damn instead of ruining our businesses. Ten years of building up this business will be shot right down.”
Local insurance agent and Crestline resident Michele Wimmer would like to know why they would require the county to drain the water so far in advance of the actual work and how it will be during the height of the tourist season.
“We’re in a drought,” Wimmer noted. “So let’s let the water we have out!“