Mission Lake gets a speed limit

The Kitsap County commissioners approved a speed limit on Mission Lake Monday after nearly half the lake community showed up at the commissioners’ regular meeting to demand one.

Walter Galitzki, chair of the Community Association of Mission Lake (CAML), said the decision essentially reinstated a restriction which the lake had for more than 40 years.

Galitzki said when the South Kitsap lake was under the state’s jurisdiction, starting in the 1940s or ’50s, boaters were restricted to slow speeds — seven mph or below. However, when the county took over in the early 1990s, he said, the commissioners opted to remove the speed restrictions.

“When they switched it over, the county had to write an ordinance (for it),” Galitzki said. “For some reason, Mission Lake was put in the unrestricted category.”

Unrestricted lakes, because they have no speed limit, are open to water sports requiring high-speed craft — i.e. waterskiing, boogie boarding and so on. Galitzki said it took more than five years for residents to notice the lack of speed limit — the issue only came up after waterskiers started to become a regular feature on the lake.

When the residents went to the county to complain, Galitzki said, they found out there was no longer any rules which applied to fast-moving boats.

“We’re not against fun,” he said. “But most residents here are into peace and quiet.”

The lake is 87 acres in area, but Galitzki said that isn’t much space for boats to maneuver on. He said a maximum of two high-speed boats can be on the lake before conditions become crowded and dangerous.

“And because its public access, we have no way to control that,” Galitzki said. “People have the right to do what they can legally do.”

Monday’s decision marked the end of a more than six-months-long process that included a petition and a public meeting to discuss option for the community.

At Monday’s meeting, more than 30 people from Mission Lake showed up to speak — mostly in favor of the speed restriction. The crowd constituted nearly half the lake’s estimated 80-member community.

“With a small group like that, you tend to get more involvement,” Galitzki said.

County Commissioner Chris Endresen said she approved the speed-restricting amendment due to concerns for the safety of swimmers. She also said an amendment was necessary because the lake had a public-access ramp. Otherwise, Endresen said, it might have been possible to work out an agreement between residents who wanted a speed limit and those who wanted to waterski.

At least one Mission Lake resident wished an agreement between speed-lovers and speed opponents could have been arrived at.

Mark Fullington spoke out against the speed limit at the meeting. He said the foster children he and his wife regularly care for are big fans of cruising on the lake in his motorboat. He said limiting all boats to 7 mph or less would take all the fun out of riding in a motorboat.

Fullington also said it would be difficult to take the kids to another, unrestricted lake because security was an issue — it’s hard to keep track of that many kids off his property, he said at the meeting.

Commissioner Tim Botkin, who also was in favor of the restrictions, said absent Commissioner Jan Angel had called in her support of the measure.

The amendment passed unanimously.

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