WHITE BEAR LAKE — Lake residents are getting fed up with loud music, trespassers and disrespectful boaters who ignore safety laws.
A resident of Chateauguet condominiums, dentist Sarah Boo shared a distasteful story of a guy who got off a boat, walked to the end of the private dock, pulled down his pants and defecated on the beach. She watched from her balcony while entertaining guests.
“This is the level of behavior we are seeing,” said Boo, who has concerns about contamination and public health.
Her observation was one of several heard by the White Bear Lake Conservation District board July 16.
They got an earful.
Manitou Island residents Sue Ahlcrona and husband Denny Trooien say they're worried about what is happening to the lake. “We are headed toward Lake Minnetonka on a smaller scale,” Ahlcrona said. “To make changes, we need our voices heard. This is not about lake owners, but people who love the lake. A handful of people are ruining lake life and it is escalating.”
Trooien showed the board a short video presentation he had made from what he called, “an illegal attack June 26 on White Bear Lake.”
Watching from his deck, he said jet skis and boaters were operating recklessly and carelessly, operating within 100 feet of other watercraft and jumping wakes. “I stopped counting at 32 violations,” he said.
One boat in particular, a green speedboat, appears to be the ringleader. “The owner bragged about avoiding the ‘cops’ at the VFW that night. If you know anything about this issue, you know the green boat,” Trooien said.
He went to the VFW that night to get the boat's registration number. When he pulled out his camera to take a photo, members of the party accosted him on the dock and tried to push him in. One grabbed his phone and the two men had a tugging match, which Trooien won.
The lake resident asked the board to toughen ordinances so law enforcement has “better weapons.”
Ramsey County Water Patrol Commander Eric Bradt attended the meeting to answer questions. He acknowledged there are problems on White Bear Lake and said his deputies are aware of the green boat and know its owner.
“The water is up. We've seen a huge increase in boating this year,” said Bradt, who added the county is spread thin, patrolling 17 lakes and 18 miles of river.
One effort to cut down on boat activity is to monitor the parking lot, he continued. That day (Tuesday), 100 parking citations were issued at the boat launch.
Board member Mark Ganz asked the commander if they can add an undercover deputy; even someone on shore in plainclothes who wouldn't go through dispatch. “They have scanners and know when you're coming,” he told Bradt.
“Our boat is identifiable,” admitted the commander. “We don't want to ruin people's time, but we are trying to target key people. It's a core group who ignore us. It's hard to get to one boat when they're all tied up, but we're doing the best we can.”
People are encouraged to call 911 if they see illegal activity so there is a record of incidents. Bradt did say some complaints are inaccurate.
“I have an unmarked vehicle and I'll sit on Lake Avenue with binoculars to identify certain boats. I'll get a 911 music complaint but there is nothing there. It's a balancing act.
“There is a level of disrespect by a few out there; no question about it,” he told the group.
Cell phone video footage is useful. Bradt said they will review the evidence and run registration numbers to see if they can issue charges.
“Maximum pressure and maximum inconvenience will push them to another lake or calm it down here,” added district counsel Alan Kantrud. He assured the water patrol he would take care of charges in court if the county issues the ticket.
Trooien said private money could be available if the county wants an undercover boat to step up enforcement. Drones could be helpful to gather evidence, he pointed out.
Trooien urged those attending the meeting to call 911 if they see 20 or more jet skis ready to launch at Ramsey County beach. He is also considering forming a nonprofit called Respect the Lake. The board would consist of non-lake and lake homeowners. “We want to say to these pirates, ‘your time is over,’” he stated.
Cdr. Bradt told residents the water patrol is working to identify the people causing the trouble. “Our sheriff doesn't want to see these problems on the lake. It's a small group. Hopefully a year from now things will be better. It will take some work.”