Marina owners in Big Bear Lake met with the Big Bear Municipal Water District’s operations committee
March 31, quickly reaching a consensus about the 2020 season opening day.
“We’re actually thinking it is best to wait until the first of May for the safety of our customers and employees,” said Steve PonTell, owner of Pine Knot Marina. PonTell suggested the MWD could continue to monitor the situation regarding COVID-19 in April with the possibility of opening sooner.
Loren Hafen, owner of Holloway’s Marina and North Shore Landing, agreed with PonTell, suggesting that the MWD board could revisit the issue at its April 16 meeting.
Steve Fengler of Big Bear Marina agrees re-evaluating the situation in mid-April is a good idea.
“We are already fielding quite a few phone calls from down the hill from people who want to know when they can rent boats,” Fengler said. He said marinas should wait until the public launch ramps open before the marinas open for the season.
Captain John Saunders of Fawn Harbor Marina wanted to allow slip owners to put their boats on the water as soon as April 1. “We want to get open as soon as we possibly can; to be able to pay the bills,” Saunders said.
MWD board member Charlie Brewster explained to Saunders that the lake operations are not yet open. Saunders agreed with the rest of the marina owners to wait and see what develops.
PonTell suggested marina owners should look into available loans to help pay salaries until the marinas can open.
The East Public Launch Ramp was originally scheduled to open April 1. The board met in a special meeting March 24 and voted to postpone the opening until at least April 7. At that time the board also decided to revisit the issue at the April 2 meeting after hearing advice and suggestions from Big Bear Lake marinas.
Jeff Cooper of Pleasure Point Marina said they have a few slip holders who want to get their boats on the water. Pleasure Point is a members-only marina.
“We’re telling them we are not open,” Cooper said. “It would be nice if we could get a soft start, but I have the feeling people would swarm up here and that might be a problem.”
Marina owners said they are doing maintenance and repairs on docks and boats while adhering to physical distancing and other safety precautions.
MWD General Manager Mike Stephenson said the agency has fielded 20 to 40 calls a day since the board voted to tentatively postpone the opening day for the East Boat Launch until April 7.
“They don’t want the influx of people,” Stephenson said about the local response. “On the 16th (of April) we can have this conversation again. The unknown is what all of us are trying to predict, and nobody can do that.”
According to Stephenson, the committee will recommend to the full board to postpone the opening of the public launch ramps until May 1, but to revisit that date at the April 16 meeting. Stephenson said the agency also has the authority to close the surface of the lake. “That is going to be part of the discussion (at the April 2 board meeting),” Stephenson said.
The MWD board of directors meet via telephone conference at 1 p.m. April 2.
The public can attend the meeting via telephone. Call 408-418-9388. If this number is busy because of high call volume, try using 213-306-3065. The access code is 620110777. The pass code is 2222.