Project brings kayak launch to lake

PADDLE-POWERED — A large group of people came out to enjoy some time on the south end of Amber Lake in Fairmont on Tuesday evening, trying out a new kayak-launching station.

FAIRMONT — A new asset was recently installed just in time for summer on the south end of Amber Lake in Fairmont.

Thanks to a cooperative effort among the Fairmont Lakes Foundation, the city and the hard work of Connor Madsen of Boy Scout Troop 56, there is now a kayak launch open for public use. Madsen played a central role, as the launch was his Eagle Scout project.

Connor’s father, Mike Madsen, was available to explain how the project came together.

“He approached the Lakes Foundation to see if they would be willing to fund the project,” he said. “They ended up funding the end section of the dock, which was about $1,500. Then after some deliberation, the city had some money left over, so they provided $7,000 for the gangplank and the other two sections.”

Madsen explained that the floating dock is sectional, and that they are glad the city was able to provide funds. If not, he explained that they would have used a piece of an old dock, which would have been difficult to make work with the launch end.

“The company that makes it is EZ Dock, and the launch is a brand new product for them. I think, if things go well, the city’s going to put in a kiosk for canoe and kayak rentals out at Gomsrud Park, and maybe we can see some more of these things if this turns out to be successful.”

Madsen was referring to fundraising efforts by the Lakes Foundation to provide non-motorized watercraft for use on the city’s lakes.

As far as the project, Madsen said Connor had to put in a minimum of 25 hours, put the project together, and have it approved by the Troop committee and the beneficiaries. He organized a crew of boys for the manpower portion of actually putting the dock in.

“The city did the grooming and re-landscaping, but he put in the labor of assembling and putting the dock in on Sunday, May 21,” Madsen stated.” So that was completed and now we have people showing up to enjoy it.”

Connor himself said the installation day was very cold, and the boys had to figure out how to put the dock together. He noted that he had a good crew of boys from the troop, and that he was thankful for their hard work.

Fairmont’s Parks and Streets Department supervisor Nick Lardy also was present to explain the work the city put in.

“The street department guys did all the work for prepping the site,” Lardy said. “We came out here, and there was actually a lot of debris from the old Lake Aires Supper club buried out here, so we dug some of that out and got rid of it. We also lowered the bank down to a better angle to get to the dock.

“We re-contoured the lake shore, backfilled the area with black dirt, seeded it, and put down an erosion control mat, and then put in a granite walkway approach to the dock.”

Lardy mentioned there was a lot of brush and small trees growing in the area to be removed, and that there was gravel added to the parking lot.”

“I think the launch is fabulous,” said Mari Phelan, secretary for the Lakes Foundation. “If we get that paddle station set up, it will be great and people will be able to enjoy this. Not everyone has a kayak, and this way they have a way they can try before they buy.

“I think this is a slick idea, and it’s going to be so much fun for Fairmont.”