Will they pay to play?

Some users say fees no big deal, they pay them elsewhere

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Jake Wolfe keeps control of a friend's boat Monday after it was launched from Honeysuckle Beach at Hayden Lake.

HAYDEN - It might be the last summer of free boat launching at Hayden's Honeysuckle Beach.

The city is looking at launching new fees there.

Suzanne Cano, Hayden community services director, said Monday that the city is primarily aiming to offset maintenance costs. The boat launch and docks get a lot of use and wear.

The city's Parks and Recreation Commission recommended implementing the boat launch fees.

"I think our rates are very reasonable," Cano said.

The commission's recommended prices are $4 a day per boat, or $6 daily for non-Hayden residents. The daily access fee recommended for commercial users and water sports users would be $15.

Season passes would be $25 per boat for residents, $50 per boat for non-city residents, and $150 for commercial and water sports users.

Last week, the City Council directed the staff to continue work on preparing fees and a plan to implement them. The city would begin collecting the fees at the end of May 2011, using a fee-collection box, sometimes referred to as an "iron ranger."

Gabe Le of Hayden Lake said a $4 fee wouldn't stop him from continuing to regularly launch at Honeysuckle, which he estimated he does about 30 times each summer. He was out at the boat launch Monday.

He is charged around $4 at other lakes where he launches his boat, such as Twin Lakes or Fernan Lake.

He favors charging non-residents more money, but he would prefer to see everyone in Kootenai County get the city resident rate.

While boat launch fees at Honeysuckle wouldn't be a problem for him, he said, the lake does have some shortcomings when it comes to launching a boat.

"Some people are frustrated that there are only two launches on Hayden Lake," he said. "Everything else on the lake is really private."

Geoff Wait of Hayden Lake said, "I probably wouldn't mind a charge. I think that's fair."

He pays to launch at Lake Pend Oreille, Priest Lake and others.

Non-residents said fees at Honeysuckle wouldn't bother them, either.

Jeff Wells, of San Jose, Calif., said fees are a "non-issue" for him.

He would pay them, just like he does nearly every place he launches his boat, whether in North Idaho or in California.

"It's funny, when I get here (Honeysuckle) I'm always looking for someplace to pay," Wells said.

He buys annual passes at some places. And at others he pays daily launch fees, sometimes up to $8, plus parking.

He knows Honeysuckle can get busy sometimes, so he said he doesn't use the boat launch on the weekends.

Chase Pozzi, Vancouver, Wash., said he would like to see the current launch lane at Honeysuckle be widened. Another lane would be great, too, he said.

"This one is way too narrow," Pozzi said. "It's not easy to get out - it gets so crowded."

Along with Honeysuckle, he launches his boat at Coeur d'Alene and near his home in Vancouver, where he usually pays around $4, he said.

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