As a long-time qualified user of the Fort Gordon Recreation Area, I note with interest the action of the Corps of Engineers, whereby it has again cited Fort Gordon for violating its permit. Why does there always seem to be some type of controversy or negative publicity involving this facility? Is there no oversight to approve or supervise what goes on? If a permit was granted for use of that area by active and retired military personnel and other qualified users, when and by whom was that changed? Does the local management have the option of interpreting policy?
It is obvious the existing facility can't support unlimited usage by the general public, or sponsored events where there are large numbers of participants. One visit to the portable toilet at the marina, or the dilapidated latrine building will convince even the most skeptical patron that the facility and the staff are apparently overwhelmed.
Parking, under normal circumstances, is certainly adequate, but imagine what happens when a tournament hosting 574 anglers (with vehicles and trailers) takes place. There is no effective way of controlling parking and traffic, and even walking becomes hazardous. There is currently a proposal to remove the majority of trees around the main activity area to accommodate new parking. (It is easy to see what the appearance will be, as trees have already been marked for cutting.) Has this been approved by the Corps of Engineers who try to protect the natural environment, or is this another attempt to cash in on the conversion to public usage? How many fishing tournaments will it take to pay for this great new parking area, or the $40,000 allegedly spent on the used walkway at the boat ramp? Will the post exchange then be able to sell beer and other merchandise tax-free to the new non-qualified patrons?
I don't believe that any qualified user of the current facilities of the Fort Gordon begrudges sharing its surroundings with any group, public or private. But, if approved, do it properly. With almost a thousand acres of property and an obvious willingness to improve an area devoted to sport-fishing, for example, let's don't inundate that area which was created under the original permit.
Certainly there are other suitable areas that could be set aside, if public access is approved. Creation of a parking lot does not need to be in the center of the busiest area of the facility ...
Alan Steves, Martinez
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