Proposed changes to City Utilities of Springfield’s parks and recreation regulations aim to support so-called silent sports at CU properties.
Springfield City Council heard a summary of proposed changes at its meeting Tuesday from Steve Stodden, vice president and chief natural gas and water operations officer for CU. The utility’s recreation areas are Lake Springfield, Fellows Lake, McDaniel Lake and Valley Water Mill, Stodden said.
“We’ve really seen a huge growth in what we’ve called the silent sports,” he said. “We see more desire every day for kayaks, canoes, hiking and fishing.”
That list was expanded by Christina Angle, a board member for Ozark Greenways Inc., which operates CU’s trails.
“As an organization, we support low-impact silent sports, such as paddleboarding, kayaking, sailing, hiking, cycling, running, birdwatching – everything like that, that supports the active use of these buffer lands but also protects our community’s drinking water source,” she said.
Chief among the proposed changes is the addition of paddleboarding with a nonmotorized permit.
“Paddleboarding is the most requested rule change that we hear from our community,” Stodden said.
He noted Watershed Committee of the Ozarks Inc. already has purchased paddleboards in anticipation of the addition of the sport.
“I’m sure they will do a great job of educating people on them,” he said. “We do realize that there will be a learning curve for some of the people to get to use those. They’ll either figure out a way to be great at them or they’ll figure out another activity.”
The rule changes also would take away a currently allowable sport: waterskiing.
“This is seldom used,” Stodden said. “It’s fairly impractical with the horsepower limit and with the required driver, spotter and skier on board.”
It’s a change that aligns with the transition to silent sports, Stodden said.
Additional changes are the modifying of hunting regulations to align with Missouri Department of Conservation rules, articulating a ban on alcohol except for permitted events, removing a firearms ban that is in conflict with state law and continuing a ban on overnight camping.
CU’s partners in managing recreational opportunities are the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks, Ozark Greenways and TrailSpring, Stodden said.
“Each of our partners are also intentional supporters of our efforts to maintain water quality and increase the awareness of the importance of water quality in our community,” he said.
Jennifer Wilson, chair of the Board of Public Utilities that governs CU, said the proposed regulation changes are the result of input from the community, and it does promote stewardship of the water supply.
“The result was a good balance between protection of our drinking water with the recreation opportunities of our lakes and surrounding property,” she said.
Stodden added that the community is eager for enhanced recreational offerings.
“Several years ago, CU heard the community’s desire for outdoor recreation activities and set upon a plan to raise the bar,” he said.Council is scheduled to vote on the proposed changes at its next meeting on Sept. 19.
Springfield Business Journal’s 2023 Trusted Advisers event honors 20 businesspeople.