The question now confronting Jeff Clegg: Should Redfish Lake Lodge even rebuild its marina?
“Everything in my head says ‘don’t do it again,’ ” the manager of Redfish Lake Lodge said Tuesday. But then he thinks of the kids he sees jumping off the docks in summer, or the people who stroll onto them to sit on a bench. “My heart and my head are so in turmoil right now, I don’t know what to do.”
The marina, built in 2001, seems to have been the victim of a weather event that shifted the whole structure, Clegg said. The damage was extensive enough that he had no choice but to remove the entire structure rather than attempt repairs. Photos posted Tuesday to the lodge’s Facebook page document the broken piers and the salvage process.
Now, all that remains of the dock are some pilings that are too far out to be safely removed yet.
“It’s just crazy,” he said Tuesday, after photos of the damage were posted on the lodge’s Facebook page. “We’ve had them there for 14 years, and we know there's been risk every year.”
Clegg, who spends winters in Jerome, learned of the damage when he got a call Feb. 21. He thinks it must have happened no earlier than the day before, because crews working on the lodge Feb. 20 did not say anything about damage.
There’s no official word yet on what caused the damage. But Clegg has a theory, based around a warm-weather spike in mid-February.
According to the National Weather Service, highs at Stanley had jumped earlier that week, from around the upper 30s and low 40s to a high of 52 on Feb. 18.
On Feb. 20, the high was 39 with showers.
“My theory on it, and it really is just a theory ... there was enough rain that the level of the lake just pushed up with the water,” Clegg said.
He also wonders if strong winds could have pushed the docks. Locked up in several feet of ice, the structure partially tore away from its pilings. None of the pilings were bent when they came out, Clegg said; it appears the dock was ripped straight off of them.
A line on the beach shows where ice may have been pushed up a couple of feet, he said.
Winds recorded in Stanley Feb. 20 were just 5 to 10 mph from the north. But the Weather Service did record a gust of 23 mph the afternoon of Feb. 21, according to online records.
Korri Anderson with the Weather Service noted that the agency doesn’t have a weather station at Redfish, and that in the mountains, “you can go three miles and it’ll be completely different weather.”
SO WHAT’S NEXT?
The marina cost $300,000 when it was installed, and replacing it may carry a similar price tag.
Clegg met last week at the lake with the man who built the original dock, discussing options.
One possibility is a floating dock. But materials alone for that could cost at least $200,000, Clegg said. And it would somewhat limit what people can do around the dock area — no swimming under the docks, for example.
The most ambitious plan would be to build a new marina by the time the lodge opens for the season May 22. “It may take a miracle,” Clegg said.
Late Tuesday, Clegg said lodge management is leaning toward rebuilding the docks — but nothing is final yet.
He’s been moved by the public’s response to the news, especially after Tuesday’s Facebook posts.
“It just shows you how passionately people feel about that whole country up there,” he said.
But he doesn’t expect to turn to crowdfunding for a solution, despite some suggestions online to do so.
“There are responsibilities” when it comes to operating a dock on a lake that freezes over in the winter, he said.
“We don’t expect (to ask for public money),” Clegg said. “If someone did that, that would be totally independent of us.”
Nate Poppino: 377-6481, Twitter: @npoppino