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Work on Utah Lake marina begins

Saratoga Springs buys project to ensure completion

SHARE Work on Utah Lake marina begins

SARATOGA SPRINGS — To Dick Buehler, too much time has passed since the public was provided access to Utah Lake from the shoreline at Saratoga Springs.

But an end is in sight. A new public boat marina on the west side of the lake could be done in about 18 months.

"It's taken a lot longer than we've expected it to," said Buehler, Wasatch Front area manager for the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.

Developer Mike Dortsch built the city with the idea that residents would have a private marina near the city's pool, two-story clubhouse and historic pavilion.

In 1997, Dortsch struck a deal with Buehler that would allow him to make the old marina private if he built a new one for public use.

Dortsch said it took his company several years to build the city. And the public-turned-private marina needed a lot of work before the public one could be started.

"We didn't have enough mass out here," he said.

Still, Buehler thought Dortsch was hedging on the deal to build a public boat marina in a timely manner. "We've had considerable delays," he said.

Because of those delays, city officials stepped in last year.

Mayor Tim Parker said a public marina should be operated by a city — not a private development company. So, the city bought the marina from Dortsch last spring.

Since, city officials have selected a new place to build the public marina. At the site, near Pelican Point, there already is a small boat ramp built by the previous owner of the land.

According to Buehler, the public marina must have a complete boat ramp, paved parking and permanent restrooms.

The city has extended the ramp, built a concrete wall around the marina to keep waters calm and ordered a pre-assembled dock that is scheduled to arrive in three weeks.

There is parking — but it's not paved. There are restrooms — but they're portable.

"It's now usable," Parker said. Construction is estimated be complete in 18 months, he said.

Buehler's department shut down the private marina last year because, until then, Dortsch had not made any progress on the new public marina.

Parker said the city's involvement is unrelated to the forced closure last year. Buehler's department issues the permit that allows Saratoga to operate the old marina as private.

He said he has repeatedly threatened to shut down the marina until he sees progress on the new one.

"They've got their little private marina all fixed up, but they still haven't got the public one built," he said.

Utah Lake fisherman Don Davis is frustrated by the years of delay. He just wants to be able to get onto the lake and fish.

He's not sure it's going to happen.

Buehler holds a development bond for the city that he won't release until he sees results and a timetable for the public marina's construction and completion that meets the state's satisfaction.

"All we want is for the public to be served," he said. "We're not going to let (Saratoga Springs) off the hook."

E-MAIL: rrogers@desnews.com