City scraps launch fee, adds parking charge at Lake Tapps

Changes have come for Bonney Lake boaters

With boating season approaching and water levels in Lake Tapps rising, the city of Bonney Lake will be implementing a new parking fee to replace the old boat launch fee.

The rate of the fee will remain the same.

The council approved the new fee during the March 24 meeting.

Only the boat trailer parking area will require drivers to pay the parking fee. Other parking lots will not require visitors to pay the fee.

“The reason for the proposed change is the bollard system has not been as reliable as it was expected to be at the time it was installed,” Facilities and Special Projects Manager Gary Leaf wrote in an email. “The new system should be a little easier to understand, and there should be less risk of vehicle damage, which has been rare.”

In 2007, the city installed several adjustable bollards near the Lake Tapps boat launch to regulate entry into the lake. The bollard system allowed the city to automate the boat launch fee collection. Boaters would pay a $8.50 fee to lower the bollards to launch a boat, and pay the fee again to bring it out of the lake, making the total fee $17.

The bollard system cost the city $90,000 to install, according to staff report documents.

Since the bollard system was installed, Bonney Lake has spent $5,000 per summer maintaining the system.

Additionally, the city spent $30,000 in 2011 to repair and reconfigure the system according to staff report documents.

In total, the city has spent around $70,000 on repairs and maintenance of the system alone since it was installed.

The bollard system has also been plagued with mechanical issues for the past two years.

“Extended outages have left lanes closed while staff has attempted repairs,” Leaf wrote. “In a few cases, the bollards malfunctioned and damaged vehicles, which was rare and in most cases user error contributed to the mishaps.”

In 2013 and 2014, one of the two boat launch lanes had to be closed due mechanical failure. This halved boat launch service and reduced fee collection for a month each year.

The solution most agreeable to City Council members during the March 17 workshop was to disable the bollards and set a parking fee of $17.

The kiosk near the boat launches will print receipts for boaters to place on their front dashboard to show they’ve paid for boating parking.

The Bonney Lake Police Department will also patrol the parking lot for boaters who have not paid the parking fee. A ticket of $41 will be issued to violators, said Officer Daron Wolschleger.

The city estimates implementing the parking fee and disabling the bollards will cost about $2,000.

According to Leaf, the city collects $30,000 every year from the boat launch fee and annual passes.

While Bonney Lake residents will be able continue purchasing annual passes for $30 through the Bonney Lake Justice Department.

Annual passes are required to be placed in the read window of the vehicle.

Non-resident annual passes will no longer be available for the general public.

Reach Ray Still at rstill@courierherald.com or 360-825-2555 ext. 5058. Follow him on Twitter @rayscottstill for more news, pictures and local events.