A petition to make the entire portion of the Eagle River within the Eagle River city limits a no-wake zone was discussed last week at the city council meeting which led to approval of a future public hearing on the petition sometime near the end of April.

The petition request was from Victor Washelesky on behalf of property owners who, according to his letter, claim “the current conditions create a safety hazard and unnecessary erosion of the river bank.” The letter also stated that the only way to remove this safety hazard “is to enact a no-wake zone.”

A current no-wake area exists from 700 feet east of the Highway 45 bridge near Bridgewater Inn downstream to the west city limit. The petition asks the east limit be extended upstream to the east city limit.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has authority for regulations when lakes are involved, but not rivers, according to city Clerk Becky Bolte.

“I talked with Robin Miller of the DNR and they have no jurisdiction on the river,” Bolte said, adding “she was not in support of this.”

New signage would be required at existing public access points with specifications as to letter size.

Alex Forer, speaking on behalf of Washelesky, indicated it didn’t have to go all the way to the T-Dock since that dock is in Yellow Birch Lake and could end near Trees For Tomorrow.

City Administrator Robin Ginner, who formerly worked at Trees For Tomorrow, said they use Silver Lake for swimming rather than the river.

Mayor Jeff Hyslop indicated the city would have no capacity to enforce it, but Police Chief Chris Dobbs felt her officers could do so “if they had a big boat.”

Public comments from persons attending the meeting included a statement that “We want to be proactive and not reactive after a bad accident.” No past accidents were identified by those present, but one person after the session indicated persons acquire land on the river, which is public water, and then want restrictions on public use.

Former city administrator Joe Laux said he felt some who use the river have historically been opposed to increasing the no-wake zone because the area is used to learn barefoot water skiing. Laux went on to say, “The city improved the docking area by the bridge to attract tourism.”

Mayor Hyslop said in discussing this with city attorney Steve Garbowicz, he felt since this may be a safety issue, no public hearing was required but encouraged the city to have one.

All three council members expressed support for a public hearing and to continue to explore what would be needed.

It’s anticipated such a hearing would be near the end of April.