Lake Manassas – Will the City Council invest in public access or a lawsuit?

UPDATE April 7, 2011 — At Manassas City’s budget mark up session on Wednesday, April 6, Councilmen approved $80,000 to hire a policeman to patrol Lake Manassas. This is in addition to funding a lawsuit aimed at keeping Lake Manassas closed. How much is Manassas prepared to spend to keep the Lake closed?

UPDATE February 20, 2011
— According to the Washington Post, the Manassas City Council has rejected partner support, including Brookfield’s offer to donate land for a public access point and the Game Dept. offer to invest $100,000 for infrastructure. Councilmen claimed the $16,400 investment to cover the gap was too much for the City to pay… but they are apparently willing to invest significant public funds to ensure the Lake stays closed to the public.

July 2010While the Manassas City Council continues to drag their feet, public and private partners have stepped up to the plate with commitments to fund most expenses.  The Virginia Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries (DGIF) has committed $100,000 to build a boat ramp, parking lot and finger pier. DGIF also says they would provide an operations stipend to offset costs for a concession stand and monitor the Lake.

The developer of the Saranac community on Lake Manassas has offered to donate land to serve as a public access point. Over the past two years, the developer has been working diligently but without success to gain access to the Lake for their development, as allowed in the property deed.

However, prospective partner George Mason University’s business plan for the first year shows expected revenues of $40,600 and operating expenses of $57,000… a gap of $16,400, which Manassas says they are not willing to cover.

While the City Council stalls, the potential for a lawsuit to gain access to the Lake for the Saranac community looms on the horizon. Given the significant funding support offered by others, the City’s costs to open the Lake to public access pale in comparison to those required to fight a lawsuit.

It’s a lose-lose scenario for the public and an expensive gamble for the City Council… if the City were to lose the lawsuit, Lake Manassas would likely be opened to the public without restrictions.

If the City is interested in unrestricted access, they can do it right now without spending considerable monies on a lawsuit. Unrestricted access means there would be no need to fund a concession stand or other amenities.

Under this scenario, DGIF would assume responsibilities for law enforcement, managing surveys and stocking the lake. They would also construct a low-impact gravel parking lot, boat ramp and finger pier, as already included in their budget.

The open-access approach is successful at other Virginia reservoirs, including the Occoquan Reservoir in Prince William, Beaverdam Creek Reservoir in Loudoun, the Abel and Smith Reservoirs in Stafford, Mountain Run and Lake Pelham Reservoirs in Culpeper.

The City of Manassas currently has four options. They could (1) open Lake Manassas through a partnership with George Mason University, DGIF and the developer of Saranac communities, or (2) open the Lake with unrestricted access, which works at the Occoquan and other Virginia reservoirs.

On the flip side, the City could (3) opt to fund an expensive lawsuit aimed at preventing public access to Lake Manassas, risking a loss that could result in unrestricted access. Or the City Council could (4) continue stalling, hope the developer does not follow through with a lawsuit and keep Lake Manassas closed to the public.

While Northern Virginia residents enjoy unrestricted access for recreation to the Occoquan Reservoir, the 800-acre Lake Manassas has been closed to the public for many years. The Manassas City Council has a unique opportunity to partner with others to open Lake Manassas to the public right now.

Will the City Council take advantage of the significant commitments offered by partners to open the Lake to the public or will they instead opt to invest in a costly lawsuit aimed at keeping the Lake closed?

Advertisements

15 comments so far

  1. David Core, Chairman, RMI on

    This is the first blog I’ve come across about this. Thank you. I believe the City is concerned about oil and gas pollution from powered boats and the impact on the water filtration system. If the plan for access only includes non-motorized water vehicles, I don’t think there’d be an objection. Recreation Manassas, a 501(c)3 organization, would love to see more recreational opportunities for City residents and those in the community. If open, the public should have access not just the Saranac community.

  2. Bill on

    It’s a real shame that Lake Manassas is not open to the public. I used to canoe on this lake as a kid visiting Camp Glenkirk and have many happy memories. I would not like to see motor boats or jet skis contributing to noise pollution, but small sailboats, human-powered craft and electric motored fishing boats would be great. I sincerely hope the council will come to a decision that benefits the common good of the people.

    • Noelle on

      Do you know where the new “Camp Glenkirk” has gone? I used to go there as a kid and it was the best. My mom lives in Virginia and I would love to send my kid there to enjoy the same simple experiences I did as a kid in a great wholesome environment.

  3. countrydoc on

    It’s pathetic that they cant find a way to utilize this grand resource in a more intelligent manner. I’ve yet to see the Manassas City Council act in any way other than a reactionary one.

  4. Karl Kriegel on

    The Manassas city council needs to work with its people and act in a way that use’s its resources to the fullest potential. Lake Manassas should re open and be enjoyed by everyone that is able to benefit from this valuble resouce.

  5. c on

    The reason the lake is closed is because of the golf club bottom line.. thats what money does. why would anyone close an 800 acre lake?

    • Bill on

      Good question, but I don’t follow the logic. I’ve boated on waters near golf courses before. I’d think many in the golf community would love to get out on that lake too. Please explain your rationale and if you have any evidence please share it.

  6. Kevin on

    Lake should be used the way fawn lake and others like it around the Fredericksburg area, including powered boats 21 feet and smaller. Recreational use for all is what the intentions should be…….my 2 cents

  7. […] city has missed a great opportunity to open Lake Manassas to public recreational use, in partnership with George Mason University and […]

  8. Ryan Wick on

    I have to think that Manassas Golf Club (and their $120K membership fee) has something to do with why the lake is closed. They don’t want the riff-raff. They use excuses like ‘terrorism’ or ‘infestation of zebra mussels’ as reasons to keep the lake closed. I believe they don’t want to ever open the lake – even for canoes or kayaks.

  9. charlie on

    MY COMMENT IS TO GET A WISER MANASSAS COUNCIL THAT WOULD STOP ALL THE WASTING OF MONEY TO KEEP LAKE MANASSAS CLOSED AND SEE THE RIGHT THING TO DO FOR THE COUNTY AND THE PUBLIC ! YEP, MY THOUGHT ON THAT GOLF CLUB HAVING SOMETHING TO DO WITH IS COMING FROM THE CLOSING RIGHT AFTER THEY OPENED THAT CLUB ! I FISHED THE LAKE RIGHT AFTER THE CLUB OPENED AND GOT RUN OFF FROM FISHING ANYWHERE NEAR THEM AND NOT LONG AFTER THAT, IT WAS A TOTAL CLOSING TO PUBLIC ! SO YOU FIGURE IT OUT !!! LOOKS LIKE THE COUNCIL WILL LET ME DIE OF OLD AGE BEFORE LETTING ME TAKE MY GRANDKIDS OUT FOR A PEACEFUL DAY ON THE LATE !

  10. […] more, see Lake Manassas – Will the City Council invest in public access or a lawsuit? and other posts about Lake Manassas. Share this:FacebookEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  11. friendlyfisherman on

    rich golfers win, poor fisherman and their families lose

  12. mdr on

    Does anyone know the current status of the lawsuit with the City of Manassas? It seems to me that we could/should start small so we can all enjoy this beautiful lake from the water and the shore. Maybe just allow swimming, canoes and small paddle boats on the lake. I live on the lake and most people that live in my neighborhood would support this approach. The city could charge a small annual fee and that could help subsidize the cost to patrol. I think we need to find a compromise that works for everyone in the community. It appears that the City is digging in their heels and waiting out the community in hopes that this issue will go away. We can’t let that happen.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: