Business owners meet over proposed changes at Lake McConaughy

OGALLALA, Neb. (KNOP) - Over 50 local business owners met Wednesday night to voice their concerns after Nebraska Game and Parks announced some possible changes coming to Lake McConaughy and Lake Ogallala.

Business owners and business representative meet Wednesday night in Ogallala at the Front Street Steakhouse and Event Center to discuss proposed changes to regulations at Lake McConaughy. (Source: Holly Barraclough, KNOP TV)

Front Street Steakhouse & Crystal Palace Saloon Event Center was packed with people representing Ogallala businesses. They met together to discuss the changes being talked about for the lake.

Ogallala business owner of Design Motivations, Shawn Robinson, organized Wednesdays meeting.

"We are here gathering local business owners of the area to discuss the ramifications of the possible decisions of the lake and the changes that are about to happen," said Robinson.

He said he moved to Ogallala from Colorado, specially for the lake.

"I’ve been coming up here for 25 years at the lake and decided that with the population growth in Denver, it was time for a slow down and I saw potential here in Ogallala to bring my company and through extended research, here I am."

The Nebraska Game and Parks said: Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area hosted an unprecedented number of visitors in 2018 and 2019 which stressed both park infrastructure and resources and local public safety resources. In response, NGPC is partnering with Keith County Commissioners, local public safety officials and the general public on a proposed plan to reduce crowding and create higher quality experiences for all at Lake McConaughy and Lake Ogallala SRAs.

Business owners surrounding the lake voiced their concerns about what these changes could mean for them.

"Our business is 100% the lake, May through September, we have nothing else," said Owner of Ski Patrol Rentals, Tamatha Gage, "I think it was over exaggerated, there were a lot of people, but I don't think it was as bad as they made it out to be."

Steve Seitler owns Scuba Steve's Outdoor Toys and said if the game and parks limit the number of people that can attend the lake, it will affect business.

"There’d be a lot of income loss, not only tax revenue, but also income into my business," said Seitler, "I bet probably 85-90% of my clientele is out of Colorado and I’m not the only one, there’s other businesses that are probably 95% out-of-town. The storage facilities, pretty much all out-of-town so if you start restricting the number of people that come up here, it's going to take a hit."

He added that the reason the meeting was so important for them to have was to get some ideas and mutual agreements going.

"The lake is here, that’s why were in business, is because of the lake so we need to keep the lake, we need to keep it going so we can keep going, but we don’t wanna go in a start a fight and get the state mad at us," said Seitler. "We’re all here for the same purpose: we’re all here to provide a service, make a little money and hopefully retire, so we just need to stick together and see if we can all work together."

There will be a public information meeting at the Lake McConaughy Visitor and Water Interpretive Center in Ogallala on Thursday, January 16th from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. MST.

To read a previous story KNOP did on this subject click here.

To read more about the possible changes click here.