After a representative of the cabin owners association said some members are upset that the county has not repaired access to their sites shut down by flooding, the Hill County Park Board said it would consider waiving lease fees for people who can’t access their cabins.
Rose Cloninger said some Beaver Creek Park cabin owners have not been able to get to their sites for two years and want to know why the work is taking so long.
“They’re pretty upset,” she said, adding that the bridge into Blackie Coulee was marked as closed August of last year and is closed again this year.
Park Superintendent Chad Edgar said the problem is waiting for federal approval, and getting the permits needed to do the work, and for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to actually provide the funding — until that is done, he can’t do the work to replace a bridge or work on a crossing.
He said the bridge in question, at Blackie Coulee, was damaged in 2011, repaired and now has been completely washed away.
Hill County Commissioner Mark Peterson said the speed with which the federal government is moving forward on the projects actually is amazing — nine different agencies have to sign off to approve a project to fix a creek crossing and all did so quickly.
“This process has moved along rapidly for the type of incident we went through … ,” he said. “I feel for the people, but we’re going as fast as we can.”
This spring, President Barack Obama declared a federal disaster at Beaver Creek Park due to flooding for the third time in four years.
Peterson added that part of the process FEMA has approved is doing some studies on some of the worst and most-often affected areas on the park, to find the best solution to mitigate damage from future flooding. He said he hopes the studies will be completed by March or earlier, put out to bid and the work done early next year.
Board member Robbie Lucke said it is not right for people to pay for a cabin site and not be able to access it.
“I think that’s just for the birds, sit there all summer and not be able to get to their cabin,” he said.
Lucke said he thinks it is wrong to charge a lease fee to people who cannot access their sites.
Board member Renelle Braaten agreed.
Board chair Steve Mariani said forgoing the lease payment to cabin owners who can’t access their sites is something the board could look at. He said the board can put the topic on its agenda for November for discussion and a vote.
“It’s never been done before, but it’s never happened before,” he said.