Closing roughly one-third of Bangs Lake to faster boat traffic is not the immediate answer to potential safety issues, Wauconda village trustees informally agreed Tuesday.
Instead, the focus should be on educating boaters and determining whether there is a way for the police marine unit to have a bigger impact, officials agreed.
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"This is an enforcement and education issue," said Trustee John Barbini after about a dozen people in a full village board room made their cases against a proposal to limit all boats in the bay area of the 309-acre glacial lake to a no-wake speed of less than 5 miles per hour.
"Maybe be a little bit more aggressive with the tickets," said Trustee Chuck Black, who also is the chairman of the board's environmental committee. "That's my final choice, to close down a part of the lake to no wake."
While there have been no deaths on the lake since the 1950s, everybody has a story about a close call, Black added.
The no-wake proposal was suggested by Glenn Swanson, a longtime resident, boat owner and Wauconda Township supervisor. He said making the bay no-wake would provide a safe haven for pontoon boaters, who make up a good portion of lake traffic with kayakers and others. The village currently has no-wake regulations on the entire lake every day before 10 a.m. and after 8 p.m., and there also is a no-wake perimeter at all times.
Swanson said he thinks the bay is too small of an area for fast-moving boats, and a no-wake rule there would make it safer for everyone. Plus, it would result in less boat traffic on the main part of the lake without restricting any boat from going into any part of the lake, he added.
Other benefits would include providing a place to anchor in slow-speed traffic and less impact on wildlife, he said during the village board's informal work session.
Opponents disagreed, saying there were no facts to support some of Swanson's assertions or to justify a new no-wake rule.
"I feel we should increase the marine patrol presence," said Allison Vodicka, secretary of group of 175 homeowners on the bay.
"Wauconda markets itself as a boating community, but I do not believe you can still market this gem of our town when you will be shutting down one-third of the lake to higher speed traffic."
Laurie Barth, president and owner of Lindy's, a restaurant and marina that has been in business for half a century, said she respected Swanson's sentiment.
"At least it's opening a dialogue," she said. "I'd rather see us be proactive and come up with a solution before something horrible happens."
The village board did not take an official vote but said more information regarding police operations on the lake, for example, was needed before there could be further discussion.
"We can't, as a board, make good decisions without good information," Barbini said.