Submitted by Lake Minneola Homeowners:
The city of Clermont has scheduled a meeting with concerned property owners to discuss the relocation of a new boat ramp at the Hiawatha Preserve, directly on Lake Minneola Shores/12th Street, only yards from a residential neighborhood.

Clermont Hiawatha Preserve was designated as a “passive” park and, since planned, is developing into anything but passive.

Long-time residents who have lived on the west side of Lake Minneola, remember that it was never a surprise to see wild hogs rutting on the lawns in the early hours of the morning or a raccoon or fox rummaging through the trash.  Even a shy Florida panther was spotted from time to time.

Thus, local homeowners living on Lake Minneola Shores/12th Street became concerned when hearing that one of Lake County’s most valuable pieces of Florida would be possibly ruined by baseball fields and concessions.  Many of the neighboring property owners regularly attended council meetings and information session to be assured that the beautiful ancient oaks and Florida wildlife would be saved. The city assured the community that Hiawatha Preserve would be a “passive park”, a place where environmentalist, naturalists, photographers and learning groups would gather to appreciate and learn.  Hiawatha Preserve was described as a place where Girl and Boy Scout Troops would study Florida’s flora/fauna and wildlife.  It would be a passive park.

Since then, lots of trees have been torn down and pushed out to make way for a fitness trail, dog parks, picnic areas and playgrounds.  Even though locals grieved the loss of a piece of Lake County’s natural beauty, the good thing was a lot of people were taking advantage of the Preserve and witnessing its natural beauty.

At some point, enough of a good thing is too much.  When is a passive park no longer passive?

The city has plans to relocate its existing boat ramp, presently located in downtown Clermont, to the Hiawatha Preserve on Lake Minneola Shores/12th Street to allow the city to move forward on its $9 million Victory Point project.

The ramp relocation project is currently up for bid with construction anticipated to begin in August.  The city has built a 5,000 square-foot boathouse, located by the existing boat ramp, hoping to bring rowing and sailing competitions to Lake Minneola.   The existing ramp, used for motorized water vehicles, could become a hindrance.

The city says that the new ramp will improve traffic flow which seems questionable, unless it is referring to traffic on the lake.  No traffic studies appear to have been recently done nor were the neighboring property owners notified of a ramp in the Hiawatha Preserve until a few weeks ago.  Those who are opposing the new ramp were told that it’s a done deal.

Why is placing the boat ramp on Lake Minneola Shores/12th Street is a very bad idea?

  • Lake Minneola Shores/12th Street is a diversion road, a road used to reroute traffic. Recently all traffic on Hwy 50 between Clermont and Groveland was rerouted due to an accident (diverted from Hwy 50; to Max Hooks Road; to Lake Minneola Shores/12th Street and back to Hwy 50. Lake Minneola Shores/12th Street was blocked for hours.
  • Existing road must be moved and widened with turn lanes at a cost of about $2 million.
  • Hundreds of beautiful large oaks will need to be torn down.
  • The traffic along Lake Minneola Shores/12th Street includes many subdivisions, several churches and a high school. The traffic flow is heavy, especially in the morning and evening hours and Sunday mornings.
  • The Lake County Engineering department voiced concerns about traffic flow on Lake Minneola Shores/12th Street and did not approve the location of the boat ramp. Since the boat ramp is in the city limits, the County doesn’t have any permitting authority over the new ramp. Clermont is going ahead with its plans to place the boat ramp on Lake Minneola Shores/12th Street in spite of the County’s advice and the emergency crisis it may cause along that road.

Clermont wants to relocate its Ramp.  Where can the Boat Ramp be placed?

Property located by East Avenue/Lake Minneola (previously owned by Bell Ceramics) is a better location for the boat ramp.

  • The site is larger (approximately twice the size of the site on Lake Minneola Shores/12th Street).
  • The cost to back fill property, move & pave roadways & parking areas will be less.
  • Acres of beautiful large oaks will be saved
  • Entrance roads already exist, no trees to cut down, no back fill.
  • Using the city property on East Avenue and Lake Minneola for a temporary boat ramp would save a beautiful piece of property from being destroyed, save the city the expense of relocating the boat ramp, and allow time to partner with the County to find a better location for a boat ramp.

It’s all about location, location, location AND this LOCATION IS WRONG.

The City of Clermont is holding a meeting to address concerns regarding the relocation of the site of a new boat ramp to the Hiawatha Preserve.

People who love their lake, their community and their environment and are passionate about the best use of the property at the Hiawatha Preserve should attend:

Thursday, August 3
City Hall Council Chambers
685 W. Montrose St.
6 pm

Who is taking the signs?  Property owners placed “Save Lake Hiawatha Preserve – No Boat Ramp” signs on their properties.

  • The city took the signs but returned them to the owners after complaints were made by the homeowners.
  • A video recorder recently captured the image of a person driving on private property along Lake Minneola Shores/12th Street taking the signs down. She was driving a white pickup. The residents are considering pressing charges if the person can be identified.

It’s a sad situation when people can’t openly voice their opinions and remain safe and not harassed.