Beginning in July, Marsh Park will transition from a pay fishing lake to a pay-to-play lake as hand-powered boats will be permitted for the first time. All non-lake-related activities will remain free to the public.
“It opens up the lake to a whole new experience,” said Mayor Steve Miller. “I think as time goes on, it will get even better.”
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Miller said it’s another amenity the city will be able to offer residents and guests and believes “there are a lot of people that like to kayak and boat, and it should be a great place to do it and we’re glad to finally be able to open it up.”
Miller said allowing boats on Marsh Lake had “always been one of the plans” but there was a long process before city officials could allow it.
Parks and Recreation Director Tiphanie Howard said permitting boats was written into the park’s master plan a few years ago.
“When we decided to pull the trigger for this year, it was a process,” she said. “Just going through understanding Ohio boating laws and understanding being a local municipality owning a private, if you will, body of water.”
There are only five approved types of vessels permitted on the lake at Marsh Park: kayaks, canoes, rowing shells, rowboats and jon boats. Rules include:
• boats are required to have a current and valid Ohio registration sticker, or the alternative registration decal from the state of Ohio
• there is a daily $10 pass fee per vessel (there is no fee to enjoy the park outside of fishing and boating)
• swimming is prohibited, which is why paddleboards and windsurfers are not allowed because there’s a high likelyhood a patron could fall into the water.
• boating is only permitted during bait house operating hours — 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. or dusk (whichever is first).
• boaters can fish from the lake after purchasing a fishing pass (one per person). Costs vary, and can be found at Fairfield-City.org.
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“I am an avid water sports person and anything on the water has been, personally for me, someplace I like to relax,” she said. “So offering another component to our inventory of what we offer to the community is always a new adventure and with it comes new challenges. Our hope is everyone has fun with it and can relax.”
For now, patrons must bring their own boats.
If the city starts hearing patrons would like to boat but don’t own a boat, “we’re prepared to make that capital investment. We’re fully expecting to eventually, but we wanted to get this going first to see what kind of traffic it’s bringing us,” Howard said
Boating had been a request from residents, and Howard said the city is willing to provide opportunities the public request.
“We want to make this the best opportunity for the people in Fairfield, and always want to improve,” she said.