By NIKKI YOUNK
CRYSTAL FALLS - Following a heated meeting on Tuesday, the Iron County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a motion to rescind its agreement allowing Stambaugh Township to sell boat permits at the county-owned boat landing in Pentoga Park.
The agreement was made earlier this year when the township enacted an ordinance requiring all boaters on Chicagon Lake to purchase permit stickers.
Funds from the permit sales go toward milfoil treatments at the lake.
Commissioners argued that the county's agreement with the township was violated when a camera was set up on county property to supposedly catch people who were not paying for permits.
"We agreed to a pay box and signage only," said Commissioner Bev Camp. "Putting up a camera without county permission is a strict violation."
Steve Tinti, the board's civil counsel, agreed.
"The agreement allowed the township to install, maintain, and operate an information and self-service sales station," he said. "However, there have been several activities beyond that."
Tinti said that there have been allegations that citations are being written on the park premises instead of at the boat landing, that enforcement is interfering with park activities, and that there is an increase in civil disobedience at the park.
"It's clear that we have created an environment that is not inviting," he added.
Stambaugh Township officials, Chicagon Lake Association members, and supporters of the township's ordinance had a different take on the issue.
Resident John Archocosky explained that he installed the camera on his own after talking with an Iron County Sheriff's Department deputy about vandalism at the pay box.
"The camera was only there to prevent vandalism," he said. "It was only a few feet away in plain view."
Archocosky pointed out that since the park is public property, visitors should not expect privacy.
Furthermore, Archocosky noted that since he alone installed the camera, the township did nothing to violate its agreement with the county.
"I wasn't involved with the county agreement," he said. "I can do what I want as a private citizen."
The camera has since been removed.
Stambaugh Township Supervisor Eugene Pellizzaro added that although the township's ordinance has been controversial, it has been successful. The township has collected $7,325 from seasonal riparian passes, $2,960 from seasonal non-riparian passes, and $2,175 from daily passes for a total of $12,460.
However, the total cost for milfoil treatments at Chicagon Lake in 2012 was approximately $23,000.
"We're not asking the county for money, we're just asking to put a pay box at the boat landing," Pellizzaro told the board.
Board Chair Wayne Wales said that he believed the pay box and signage should be removed, both sides should cool down, then everyone should meet again to discuss the issue.
Commissioner Carl Lind agreed and made a motion to rescind the agreement with Stambaugh Township, which was unanimously approved by all four commissioners present. Commissioner Rosalie King was absent.
Although the township can no longer maintain a pay box on county property at the boat landing, its ordinance remains in effect.
Pellizzaro said that boaters can still purchase seasonal passes at Lucky's Bait Shop and the concession stand in Pentoga Park. He added that he is the only person who has been enforcing the ordinance all summer, and he is not sure how he will enforce the ordinance now.
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.