Articles
   
       
Pics/Video
       
Wake 101
   
       
       
Shop
Search
 
 
 
 
 
Home   Articles   Pics/Video   Gear   Wake 101   Events   Community   Forums   Classifieds   Contests   Shop   Search
WakeWorld Home
Email Password
Go Back   WakeWorld > >> Wakeboarding Discussion Archives > Archive through July 12, 2006

Share 
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old     (ll600)      Join Date: Jun 2006       07-06-2006, 6:43 AM Reply   
The 30+ year old waterski team, wakeboarders included, on the lake I enjoy my summers is being threatened by an out of town attorney who bought a place less than 10 years ago. This Saturday, FOX news is spending the day out on the lake to conduct interviews and watch a ski show. The battle of the bay continues.

Water ski team causes stir

By Lisa Black
Tribune staff reporter

June 29, 2006, 9:00 PM CDT

ELKHORN, Wis. -- Some Chicago-area residents expected to be relaxing at their summer homes at Lauderdale Lakes this summer over barbecue and sunsets, but instead they are engaged in what one called "the Battle of Don Jean Bay."

Their foe? The Lauderdale Aqua Skiers, a youth water-ski team whose members hurtle over jumps, create pyramids and perform stunts while music blasts every Saturday night.

Locals have long seen the water-ski shows as a quaint diversion. For weekend vacationers, they're a major irritant. Chief among the detractors is William Kochlefl, a lawyer from Winnetka, who, after getting no satisfaction from local officials, did some research and discovered that the skiers could be violating an environmental law.

Now the community, about 15 miles north of Lake Geneva, Wis., is in an uproar.

The feud has pitted neighbor against neighbor, and to understand it, one must know that water-ski teams in Wisconsin are like NASCAR in North Carolina. National enthusiasts refer to Wisconsin as the "show ski capital of the world" for its 35 formally organized teams—about three times the number found in most other states.

Underlying some of the disagreement is the feeling that outsiders from near Chicago are trying to change the local flavor.

"The ski team has been there 30 years and these folks are relatively new," said Scott Mason, chairman of the Lauderdale Lakes Lake Management District board, which owns the land used by the skiers.

But Rhonda Kochlefl, William's wife, said all area property owners should have the same rights.

"We purchased this property in 1998 as a dream come true and hoped to have it in our family for generations," she said. "I want to know why the ski team is above the law."

The Kochlefls say that for several years after they bought their home, the ski team was based largely at a neighboring lake, so they weren't prepared for the heavy use that resumed on the bay in 2004.

The Kochlefls and several neighbors complain that the team now dominates the bay, leaving little space for them to leave their piers. They question the safety of the ski jump, and say the skiers regularly cross into the 100-foot, no-wake zones—a claim the ski team disputes. Opponents also complain that the ski towboats, each of which is equipped with two 200-horsepower engines, are damaging the shoreline as they stir up the lake's floor.

About 20 other families — a large portion of those who live nearest to the bay, many of them weekend visitors — signed a petition stating they share similar concerns about the ski team.

William Kochlefl discovered the ski team launches off land that is zoned by the county for conservation because it is a wetland. He presented extensive documentation to officials and demanded that the ski team's annual permit be revoked.

Officials with the Lake Management District told him that they believe the ski team activities fit with their mission and do not violate zoning law. The LaGrange Town Board turned him away, saying the team supporters outnumber the opposing neighbors.

But Kochlefl found a more receptive audience when he appealed to Walworth County. A county zoning official agreed that the ski team is violating a law by using the land, which also contains a set of bleachers.

Officials told the team they have a year to find a new launch site.

Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is investigating the Kochlefls' complaint to see if the ski team needs to apply for additional permits.



Ski-team supporters plan to put up a fight, with area organizations lobbying county and state elected officials to intervene. The next step is for lake management district leaders and county officials to discuss options, such as rezoning the property so the ski team could stay in Don Jean Bay, Mason said.

"If he's successful in getting rid of us, what's the next group he'll go after?" said Greg Twelmeyer, 50, president of the Lauderdale Aqua Skiers. "The personal watercraft? The 4th of July fireworks? It's a slippery slope and we're in the bull's-eye."

About 80 people from 55 families participate on the current ski team, leaders said. Skiers come from the local Lauderdale Lakes communities as well as Illinois.

Supporters describe the ski performances as a wholesome tradition supported by generations of family members since the 1960s. Team members age 6 and up sew costumes, cut ropes and raise money year-round.

Louise Meike, 60, stood near the water-ski site recently and described four generations of family involved with the team.

"While my children were in it, I made the costumes. My husband was the driver," said Meike, whose three grandchildren are among the youngest newcomers on the team.

"This is family."

At the pier, the Meike grandchildren, ages 7, 4, and 1, all wore life vests as they watched older teens and their parents practice their moves.

Jeff Asbach, 40, of Spring Grove, Ill., hoisted his 6-year-old daughter, Kayla, on his shoulders while on skis.

"I've made lifelong friends here," Asbach said.

Most agree the turbulence began last summer when the Lauderdale Aqua Skiers started practicing three to four hours a day, four days a week, at Don Jean Bay. Because the 900-foot-wide bay's waters are calm and shallow, it is a popular spot for recreation on Lauderdale Lakes, a chain of three lakes north of Elkhorn.

In 1999, the ski team cut back on its use of the bay when the private landowner who provided them with a launch site and pier sold his property. The team moved most of its operations to nearby Elkhorn Lake, practicing and performing at Don Jean Bay only for holidays and special events.

Then in 2000, the Lake Management District bought the team's old launching site, a 7-acre parcel, for $100,000. The team continued to split its time between both sites. Then in 2003, the Elkhorn City Council voted to stop allowing motorboats on Elkhorn Lake in a decision unrelated to the Lauderdale Aqua Skiers, a parks and recreation official said.

By July 2004, the water-ski team resumed all of its practices and performances at Don Jean Bay, Twelmeyer said.

That caused a stir immediately, said David Sturms, a lawyer from Hinsdale who has a home on the bay.

"They pull out this big ski jump and start maneuvering around the area. It just blocks off the area," said Sturms.

The LaGrange Town Board now permits the team to practice from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays. The skiers return to practice about 3 p.m. Saturdays before holding the hourlong show at 6 p.m.

The shows attract dozens of spectators, most of whom watch from their boats, which fill the bay and anchor near the homeowners' docks.

Ski-team leaders said they thought they had resolved the problems by agreeing to stop practicing on Sundays, said Anthony Cecola, 42, team fundraiser.

"We're not doing anything we haven't been doing for 30 years," Cecola said.

Most hope for a compromise.

"I personally don't want them out," said Karen Zamin of Hoffman Estates, who supported the Kochlefls at the LaGrange board meeting. Her family bought a home on the bay with hopes of retiring there.

"I just wanted them to cut back to a reasonable and fair amount of time," Zamin said.

lblack@tribune.com

Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune
Old     (fly135)      Join Date: Jun 2004       07-06-2006, 7:00 AM Reply   
"...while music blasts every Saturday night."

Doesn't everyone want this on their lake on sat night?
Old     (uppledup17)      Join Date: Sep 2005       07-06-2006, 7:30 AM Reply   
Wasn't this lawyer made aware of the Ski Team prior to buying a house there. I call it bad decision making on his part. It is shame he is from IL, gives us a bad rep.
Old     (timmy)      Join Date: Jul 2001       07-06-2006, 7:40 AM Reply   
Ski shows last about an hour and are quite entertaining to watch. Perhaps the ski team could invest in a more evenly distributed sound system to reduce overall volume, however that should be a small issue, as living on a public lake you have to expect boat noise, etc.

I was not able to find Mr. Kochlefl's email, but I was able to find Mr. Sturm's e-mail. I wrote him a quick note.

Dear Mr. Sturms,

I am writing to express my amazement and disgust in your crusade against the Lauderdale Aqua Skiers. While I do not personally know any of these folks, I was part of a show ski team elsewhere in the state several years ago, and can attest to the value a team like this brings to the community. First and foremost it is a wholesome family activity. These teams work year-round to bring the best show possible to the community, on what limited funds they can secure by sponsorships and fundraising. This allows great interaction between family members that is difficult to come by in this day and age with busy parents and countless distractions for the youth.

While it is obvious that you are oblivious to the selfish nature of your crusade against this team, I urge you to reconsider your stance. You really ought to try to have a sense of community, and embrace the people around you. This is what really makes life worth living, rather than isolating yourself and focusing inward.

Thank you


Several years ago I skied in an INT tournament hosted by this team, and I while I don't know any of them personally, they are a stand up bunch. (on a side note Erik Ruck skied on a very similar team a few miles away)
Old     (ryan_shima1)      Join Date: Sep 2002 Location: Layton, Utah       07-06-2006, 7:54 AM Reply   
Unbelieveable! The things people complain about. I been on Lauderdale Lakes and have seen the Aqua Skiers perform......not only entertaining but also a tradition that spans decades.

If people don't want to share the water, build your own private lake!
Old     (hoosairboy)      Join Date: Aug 2005       07-06-2006, 8:44 AM Reply   
"the team now dominates the bay, leaving little space for them to leave their piers"..."the Lauderdale Aqua Skiers started practicing three to four hours a day, four days a week, at Don Jean Bay"

I think the complaint is the fact the team practiced everyday three to four hours leaving no time for other boaters. We have been part of ski show and support it. But I personaly hate it when I can't ride in my own channel because ski show is there during prime time every day. Think about it. You want to go out for a set but can't because ski show has the cove.
Old     (mx118)      Join Date: Dec 2002       07-06-2006, 8:46 AM Reply   
... and they wonder why kids get into drugs and gangs when they keep wanting to shut down all their activites?!?!?
Old     (timmy)      Join Date: Jul 2001       07-06-2006, 8:53 AM Reply   
The day is very, very long in the summer, and these people are not commuting to work in Chicago from WI.
Old     (woohoo)      Join Date: Jun 2006       07-06-2006, 9:02 AM Reply   
I can't believe people have to work that hard to find something to whine about. It seems like the skiers have been there for decades and it's not like they are there all the time. Also don't the skiers just use a cove on the lake, can't boaters go to another part of the lake if they don't want to watch the waterskiers. I just hope they let the skiers continue because shows like that probably help out the community.
Old     (mracrew)      Join Date: Apr 2005       07-06-2006, 9:50 AM Reply   
this article is rediculous. i ride on lauderdale and have a few friends involved in the team. This article makes it look like everyone from IL is against the team when really its just a group of selfish douche bags. The wakeboard coach Dave Briscoe comes on our lake every year and this Kochlefl dick wad complaining about him wakeboarding in the bay. it disgusts me how one selfish jackass can cause such a mess.
Old     (ll600)      Join Date: Jun 2006       07-06-2006, 9:50 AM Reply   
I heard from Anthony Cecola (36 year Lauderdale Aquaskier veteran) who is quoted in the article.

Today's Elkhorn Independent should have an article in it, the Janesville gazette and The Week will have stories. WTMJ4 was out last week, and again, Saturday Fox news will be here all day out on the Lake doing interviews and then enjoying the show at 5:30. Anthony will be a guest on the Deborah Rowe radio show on WLS am890, Sat. at 1pm for an hour. If your in the area stay tuned.

THE BATTLE OF THE BAY continues.
Old     (innov8)      Join Date: May 2005       07-06-2006, 9:59 AM Reply   
Ya it really sucks when the idiot starting all the BS is a Lawyer, and goes out of his way to find reasons to try to shut them down. I cant stand people like Mr. Kochlefl!! Get a life!!
Old     (mjmurphy53711)      Join Date: Mar 2004       07-06-2006, 11:08 AM Reply   
To those in the area (Im an hour and a half away), Im curious......What do the boat dealers have to say about this? Seems to me they might have a bit of resource/weight to pull.

There is literally handfuls of marinas and businesses that have been involved around that area and Im sure have some sort of involvement with the events that go on there?

Lets say this guy was to succeed with his claim, what sort of precedant does that set?

I believe lakefront property ownership stops at the waters edge, and the water itself is a public domain.

www.midwestwakeboarder.com
Old     (wiltok)      Join Date: Feb 2003       07-06-2006, 12:17 PM Reply   
I don't agree. What would you say if every night there was legal drag racing on the street in front of you house? It's a public street - same concept really. I can't imagine you would all be so understanding. If you read the article closely, the ski team used to practice half the time at this lake and half at another lake. THe other lake was shut down for some reason - so they are on this lake every night. Maybe when the guy bought he was OK with half the time but not ALL the time.
Old     (ll600)      Join Date: Jun 2006       07-06-2006, 12:19 PM Reply   
The water is public domain but the ass started looking at zoning. The shoreline is basically marshland so when he appealed to the County they agreed the ski team is violating a law by using the land, which also contains a set of bleachers (only 3 seats high for cryin out loud). Officials told the team they have a year to find a new site. Now the the WI DNR is investigating. The ultimate goal is to get the land rezoned so the guy doesn't have an argument. The thing with Don Jean Bay is it one small section of 3 larger lakes. The bay is 6-9 feet deep and consistently has the smoothest water. If the ski team isn't using the bay there are ALWAYS other boats using it to ski and wakeboard. I'm afraid that if he kills the ski team he'll move onto having the whole bay turned into a no wake zone or something. Note that one half of one of the lakes is already a no-wake zone for wildlife protection. I need to find his email so I can start sending him listings for houses over there.
Old     (ll600)      Join Date: Jun 2006       07-06-2006, 12:28 PM Reply   
Kilo, It's 3 night out of 7 only. They're not on the lake every night. Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays only. Additionally, this guys house is deep in the bay atleast 100 feet off the water. I doubt he could even hear the announcer if he had his air conditioning on.
Old     (hal2814)      Join Date: Feb 2006       07-06-2006, 12:28 PM Reply   
Read the whole article, Mike. And while I'm singaling you out, it seems that there are a lot of folks who apparently didn't read much of the article at all and started making assumptions based on the headline. These three paragraphs in particular are very important:

"William Kochlefl discovered the ski team launches off land that is zoned by the county for conservation because it is a wetland. He presented extensive documentation to officials and demanded that the ski team's annual permit be revoked.

Officials with the Lake Management District told him that they believe the ski team activities fit with their mission and do not violate zoning law. The LaGrange Town Board turned him away, saying the team supporters outnumber the opposing neighbors.

But Kochlefl found a more receptive audience when he appealed to Walworth County. A county zoning official agreed that the ski team is violating a law by using the land, which also contains a set of bleachers. "

Of course those three paragraphs are summarized nicely for those of you who bothered to read all the way to paragrah 3.

And since I singled you out specifically, Mike, "what sort of precedant does that set?" It doesn't really set any precedent. It just further reinforces the already well-established precedent of not messing with wetlands.

Personally, I'm much more concerned with what kind of precedent this attitude sets: "The LaGrange Town Board turned him away, saying the team supporters outnumber the opposing neighbors." Public sentiment does not and should not superceed the law. Seems to me like this ski team is a tradition and the locals are willing to brush aside the law in order to pamper those following that tradition. This lawyer is eventually going to lose because the ski team is well within its rights to use the water. However, he's going to dog them as long as they are not complying with the law. He's probably hoping they just get frustrated and leave but I imagine that won't happen if this is as much a tradition as everyone makes it out to be.
Old     (fly135)      Join Date: Jun 2004       07-06-2006, 12:59 PM Reply   
You're right Dante. Bleachers are destroying our wetlands! We need stronger laws to keep them bleachers off our wetlands.
Old     (wiltok)      Join Date: Feb 2003       07-06-2006, 1:02 PM Reply   
Thanks for the clarification. A lot of towns have noise ordinances - especially for loud music from car stereos. Why? Because loud noises, even if coming from a public way, are a nuisance. They are trying to regulate Harleys, and also very loud boats (although it is difficult to measure sound consistently). How many times have you been listening to music and pulled up on a car with blaring sounds - so much it shakes your car and drowns out your tunes? I don't know about you - but I find it pretty annoying.

This guy is from another state and most likely he is there only on Friday and Saturday nights (which means every night is a ski show for him). And I'm sure they are not giving him a break on his prop taxes, and in fact is probably paying double what the locals pay.

I am a Michigan boater that lives in Illinois. The locals can hate all they want - but at the end of the day my fellow lake prop owners and I subsidize the county with our outrageous taxes (we even pay an additional $800 in the fall just for the schools - and none of us ever send any kids). I'm not saying we deserve preferential treatment - I'm saying we deserve equality.
Old     (wakeforce139)      Join Date: Jan 2004       07-06-2006, 1:12 PM Reply   
"Public sentiment does not and should not superceed the law." I believe you wrote that Dante? Hmm well from what I have been able to gather about the way our government is supposed to work, I believe that public sentiment is what should be establishing the law. So if the law is setup in a way to benefit the few and not the majority, the general rule is that the law is changed.
Old     (psudy)      Join Date: Dec 2003       07-06-2006, 1:44 PM Reply   
Liberals always look to the law to take away the rights of the majority. The Pledge of Alegance, The Ten Commandments, etc etc. They complain that their rights are being taken away, by having to adhearing to the values this country was founded on.

It seems to me that a compromise could be reached on this issue, instead of trying to just get them band.
Old     (hal2814)      Join Date: Feb 2006       07-06-2006, 1:59 PM Reply   
"Hmm well from what I have been able to gather about the way our government is supposed to work, I believe that public sentiment is what should be establishing the law."

I missed the part where I said that public sentiment shouldn't establish law. If you can point out where I said that, I'd be much obliged. I think you need to reexamine the situation listed above. Public sentiment can establish laws provided it does not trample our rights as provided by the Constitution. Even then enough public sentiment can change our very rights. However, there are channels you have to go through involving the legislature to make public sentiment into law and that's not happening at all here. You can't just ignore environmental law because some lake management group thinks more people are in favor of this show than against the show. If they want to change the law due to public opinion, then that's fine by me. If they want to simply ignore the law due to public opinion, that's where I have a problem.

"You're right Dante. Bleachers are destroying our wetlands!"

You're also putting words in my mouth, John. I never commented on how right I thought the precedent was, only that it exists (and it very much does exist). For the record, I think it's a bit silly. The federal government has become way too overprotective of wetlands in the past 20 years or so. A few bleachers and some dry starts aren't going to hurt things there. However, the solution isn't to ignore the law. The solution is to work within the framework of the law to provide us with better laws.
Old     (innov8)      Join Date: May 2005       07-06-2006, 2:00 PM Reply   
Well said Paul!! I agree!
Old     (wakeforce139)      Join Date: Jan 2004       07-06-2006, 3:38 PM Reply   
Dante- I am well aware of how the channels work to change laws and such, I suppose reading what you wrote (important to remember it's a forum where our opinions/beliefs are typed and therefore not nearly as clearly expressed as though we were discussing them in person)that I gathered the feeling that you were of the mind that the law is set and that they simply must abide by it, or something to that effect. I can see your point about your issue with ignoring the law due to public opinion, obviously in a society ignoring laws because it has become publicly accepted can have huge negative consequences. I guess there isn't much to argue about here is there?
Old     (fly135)      Join Date: Jun 2004       07-07-2006, 7:51 AM Reply   
Dante, I disagree. I don't think it's the duty of public officials to seek out every violation of the letter of the law. When a law is penned to paper it can't take into account every situation. As you said a few bleachers won't hurt some wetland.

If you can't identify how applying the law in a particular situation will have any impact on the intent of the law, then ignore it. Don't use good laws in a bad way. Law books don't think, people do. Let's use our heads.
Old     (skibum69)      Join Date: Aug 2004       07-07-2006, 9:11 AM Reply   
We have been having a similar situtation in Eau Claire for at least the past 10 years. The local ski team skis on a lake that no other motorized boats are allowed on. Some liberals keep trying to get them kicked off but the community keeps protesting and saying how the team is good for the community. They have been given extensions on the permit every year to find another site. The only site that works is on the river and some trial shows have been run there, but more people complain about the sectino of the river being shut down than do about the small lake they are on currently. The biggest complaint the liberals have is they say the ski team is hurting the lake, but the team is keeping the lake from becoming an overgrown weed swamp. This team has practices or shows everday except saturdays.
I think the above battle of the bays will take a long time to sort out unless some thing is worked out. I don't know the extent of their permit but it could include using the wetlands as a boat launch and having bleachers. I know the team in Eau Claire made a sandy beach which the community gets to use when shows are not going on. The local team's permit includes making a boat launch, setting up bleachers, using motorized boats in that zone and being able to block off the section of the lake.
Old     (hal2814)      Join Date: Feb 2006       07-07-2006, 9:44 AM Reply   
Those public officials didn't seek out anything. Another citizen brought the complaint to them. It's the sworn duty of public officials to uphold the law, John.

If our legislature creates a law with unintended consequences, then they need to fix that. We don't need law men ignoring the law because the community doesn't feel like enforcing it. That just opens the door to corruption as the community will decide what laws to enforce on what groups.

And for what it's worth, this situation has a very real and very clear impact on the intent of the law. The intent of the law is to preserve the wetlands by not letting man impact the wetland environment at all. The problem is that the law is too strict to begin with. This isn't a good law being used in a bad way. It's a bad law being used in a bad way.
Old     (psudy)      Join Date: Dec 2003       07-07-2006, 10:02 AM Reply   
"It's a bad law being used in a bad way."

Agreed.
Old     (bflat53212)      Join Date: Mar 2003       07-07-2006, 11:22 AM Reply   
FIB's! :-)
Old     (gmhdesign)      Join Date: Jun 2006       07-07-2006, 12:14 PM Reply   
I know this is really mean but... William Kochlefl is in the phone book... I just googled his name and his phone # came right up… if it’s still his real #. I’d love to let him know that millions of us would give our right arm to have that piece of property. It's a shame he bought a retirement home in a resort community.
Old     (hoosairboy)      Join Date: Aug 2005       07-07-2006, 6:29 PM Reply   
I have been part of ski show and I enjoy it. But I must admit I get frustrated when I can't take a set in my cove because of ski show team practicing three times per week from 5pm to dark. While that leaves me 4 days, two of those are Sat and Sun and every rider knows the Wallys are out in force.

I see both sides. I invested a lot of $$$ to live on the lake in a cove that is ridable. Since I work and can only ride at night that means a conflict with ski team. I basically have 2 nights to use the cove and can only hope the weather is good and I have no conflicts. Not what I envisioned when I moved to the lake.
Old     (wakeboardnchica)      Join Date: Oct 2005       07-08-2006, 2:07 PM Reply   
Locals have long seen the water-ski shows as a quaint diversion. For weekend vacationers, they're a major irritant.


If the locals are fine with it why is it such an annoyance for the the people that stay there on the weekend? It seems to me that the locals would be complaining before them
Old     (openwydr)      Join Date: Aug 2004       07-09-2006, 8:36 PM Reply   
I believe that Hoosairboy has the best point.-I invested a lot of $$$ to live on the lake in a cove that is ridable. Since I work and can only ride at night that means a conflict with ski team. I basically have 2 nights to use the cove and can only hope the weather is good and I have no conflicts. Not what I envisioned when I moved to the lake.

For those of you who do not have lakefront property - - one of the reasons we own it is for the ease of use of the water. Pier,boatslip over launching... I agree that it is everyones water. But what gives the ski team precedence( 4x a week for 4 hours per)over the homeowners whose taxes pay for the amenities and infrastructure on / around the lake.


I to would be upset if I had to give up my water for 4 hours a day 4x a week to a ski team. I am guessing that that are practicing late afternoon - evening hrs when most people would be off work and want to catch a quick set.

While I do not agree with the attorneys actions I can see his frustration.

}
Old     (psudy)      Join Date: Dec 2003       07-10-2006, 7:19 AM Reply   
I can see his point too, but he is going about it all wrong. I think he should try to work with the team to come to a compromise. Instead of just trying to get them banned.

Reply
Share 

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 8:36 PM.

Home   Articles   Pics/Video   Gear   Wake 101   Events   Community   Forums   Classifieds   Contests   Shop   Search
Wake World Home

 

© 2019 eWake, Inc.    
Advertise    |    Contact    |    Terms of Use    |    Privacy Policy    |    Report Abuse    |    Conduct    |    About Us