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East County Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010 7 years ago

Usage policy changes for boat ramp

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Lakewood Ranch residents wanting to use the Lake Uihlein boat ramp now must have a key to access it as well as at least $1 million in liability insurance coverage.

The Country Club/Edgewater Village Association, the entity responsible for the ramp, recently made a change in its usage policy, which became effective July 1. The new policy requires Lakewood Ranch residents to register with Town Hall and pay $20 for a key to the facility, which now remains locked when not in use.

The provision requiring insurance has some residents balking.

Riverwalk Meadow resident Ingrid Wach said she and her husband go boating with their son once or twice a year. Paying so much for insurance simply wouldn’t be worth it for her family, she said.

“We are not going to buy $1 million worth of insurance just so we can go on the lake for a couple hours,” she said.

Moorings resident Harry Emmermann agreed. He normally accesses Lake Uihlein through a dock in his neighborhood and said he checked into the new ramp policy out of interest but stopped on paragraph one. The section requires a homeowner to “sign a release, assumption of risk and hold harmless agreement and to provide proof of insurance with liability coverage of $1 million,” the document states.

“I’m not questioning what (CEVA is) doing, but I’m not sure they if they are trying to foster use of the lake and boats or discourage it,” Emmermann said. “We’ve lived on the lake for five years, and there’s very little action. With a $1 million requirement, I can’t imagine people jumping at the opportunity to boat here. The rest of the (agreement) seems entirely reasonable.”

Emmermann noted he has rented a canoe at Oscar Scherer State Park for about $5 an hour with no liability insurance required.

Gary Vreman, vice president of independent insurance agency Dick, Johnson and Jefferson, said $1 million liability coverage would fall under a liability umbrella and likely cost homeowners an average of $250 to $300 annually. Such a high coverage amount, he said, is typically seen only at marinas.

CEVA President Dave Kostura said the change in policy was needed to prevent misuse of the ramp and park facilities, which are partly maintained for CEVA by Lakewood Ranch Community Development District 2.

“The bottom line is we had some problems with business people parking their trucks there and people parking their cars overnight,” Kostura said. “We decided to go ahead and lock it up for security reasons.

“We just don’t want anybody to get hurt and not have any sort of coverage,” he said.

The Lake Uihlein Boat Ramp, located just north of Lakewood Ranch Town Hall on Lakewood Ranch Boulevard, opened in the fall of 2007 after LWR Communities, a subsidiary of Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, completed construction of the project and deeded it to CEVA.

At the time, CEVA board members expressed concerns over liability, as well as costs associated with maintaining the site.

The usage policy for the ramp has varied over the years, first by having residents pay $75 for a transponder to access the ramp and more recently by leaving the facility open to public use.

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].

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