Boaters detail numerous frustrations with Frisco Bay Marina operations
Many concerns shared at Frisco Town Council meeting are related to ‘dock island’
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that it was Frisco Town Council member Andy Held who said “things seem to be out of control” at the marina.
At Tuesday’s Frisco Town Council meeting, a vocal collection of boaters aired their frustrations regarding the town’s flagship attraction: Frisco Bay Marina.
For more than 35 minutes, boaters expressed their concerns, namely those specific to this summer’s “dock island,” which floats several hundred yards offshore. The boaters also detailed other safety, communication and mismanagement concerns they’ve had with the marina over the past two years.
They said the town’s decision to keep several of the full summer slips out on dock island has resulted in inconveniences as well as safety concerns. Each winter, the marina stores the docks out on the lake before bringing them back to shore for the summer season.
“It is nothing more than a mooring,” longtime Frisco boater Aleda Kresge said.
Town of Frisco spokesperson Vanessa Agee said Thursday that no one would dispute that dock island is not as ideal or convenient as a regular slip.
The decision to have dock island was based on early season water-level predictions from Denver Water, Agee said. She added that the decision to keep dock island through the remainder of summer is based on current drought conditions and the amount of time it would take to move the docks to shore and potentially to move the docks back out in the case of lower water levels.
Agee said moving the docks to shore now could take two to three weeks, further disrupting boaters’ ability to get out on the lake in an already short summer season.
Agee said marina staff already was aware of many of the issues brought up at Tuesday’s meeting. She said staff has been working on solutions — recently implementing some — during a challenging year with drought conditions, changing water levels and hiring difficulties.
Agee said those solutions include expanding the hours of the free, on-call shuttle service to dock island to 7 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Still, several boaters said the shuttle doesn’t run late enough for their typical activity out on the lake.
After Mayor Hunter Mortensen and Acting Town Manager Diane McBride met with some boaters over the past month, Agee said other solutions conceived by the town include:
- Adjusting the no-wake zone to better accommodate dock island
- Eliminating dinghy fees for slip holders
- Ordering more dock carts and bike racks
- Placing sturdy trash and recycling receptacles on dock island
Agee also said the marina has agreed to provide overnight use of the courtesy dock, at the regular slip location on shore, for boaters who don’t return to dock island in time to use the shuttle. On Tuesday, the town decided to extend its deadline for overnight boats to vacate the courtesy dock from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
“The next step is the (town) staff will return to council with a report regarding solutions that have already been implemented at a staff level and with any scenarios or decisions that require council decision-making,” Agee said.
Despite the town’s efforts, Deanna Waalkes of Breckenridge said the situation has been infuriating after boaters prepaid for a marina slip and services in the spring. Waalkes added that her frustrations with her poor marina experience date back to last summer.
Waalkes said it’s concerning to her that dock island lacks several amenities, including medical care, emergency egress, fire suppression, restrooms and security.
Agee said the town verified a few weeks ago that the Summit County Sheriff’s Office would respond to any calls on dock island. She added that there’s the same amount of security on dock island as there is at a regular slip on shore. As for access for those with disabilities, she said the courtesy dock on shore provides accommodations.
Because there is no fuel dock at dock island, a fire suppression system is not required, Agee said.
Waalkes and other boaters also said they feel the town does not value slip holders compared to rental customers.
“It is beyond awful customer service how you are treating the slip holders,” Waalkes said at Tuesday’s meeting.
Lynnette Hampton of Silverthorne, a boater at the marina for 11 years, said she’s frustrated with the marina’s response to her complaints about dock island.
Hampton said the marina offered her a $50 discount if she used a personal dinghy boat to transport her party to her boat at dock island rather than using the town’s shuttle from the marina. But Hampton said the alternative would require them to purchase a dinghy at upward of $2,000.
Gary Sonnett, a 25-year resident of the county who now lives in Highlands Ranch, said morale at the marina this summer is the lowest it has been in two decades. Sonnett said he believes the situation is the result of the town contracting with F3 Marina, a marina management and consulting company, to complete an audit of all Frisco Bay Marina operations. The audit was conducted in October 2020 and presented to Town Council in November and December.
“They are managing ocean marinas and not really aware of what it is to manage a mountain marina,” Sonnett said about F3 Marina. “… I think the council needs to take a hard look at the issues we are facing out there and — I think, at the same time — we definitely deserve some compensation.”
Town Council member Andy Held said at Tuesday’s meeting that “things seem to be out of control” at the marina. Town Council member Dan Fallon added that he’s getting up to speed on the current situation and said there will be more discovery to help solve the problems.
“This is going to be a priority — top three for us,” Fallon said.
“This council is committed to restoring your confidence in the staff, in the brand of the town,” Fallon added. “I have been in small business here since the early ’90s. I built my brand on customer service. I can recognize when there’s an egregious lapse. And I think the question right now is bringing the management teams together to start to identify the ways to find the resolutions.”
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