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Fishing will be allowed at Haverhill reservoir

By Jeffrey Pieters

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Rochester-area fishermen are finally getting their hooks in the Haverhill Township flood-control reservoir.

Township leaders relented on their opposition to legalizing public fishing on the rural, city-owned property. The city council on Monday approved a memorandum of understanding with the township allowing fishing there on a temporary basis, at least through the winter.

It opens up a desirable, but previously illicit, fishing spot about 1 1/2 miles east of the city, on Olmsted County Road 11 (55th Avenue Northeast), north of Silver Creek Road.

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Built in the early 1990s, the reservoir was off-limits to fishing under an agreement with the township.

Because of that, fishermen who wanted to access the water legally couldn’t simply park their cars and walk to it. They could, under state laws governing access to public water, do so by wading the creek from Silver Creek Road north into the reservoir. Others simply disregarded the law and crossed private land to get there.

The agreement gives the city the right to build a 30-car gravel parking lot on the west side of the reservoir, off County Road 11. That might open later this week, said Assistant City Manager Gary Neumann. A paved lot might be added next year.

The township decision had to do with safety, said Ben Hain, chairman of the township board. Cars parked on nearby roadsides and in front of farm driveways posed a traffic and pedestrian safety hazard, he said.

Also, township leaders came to feel that their opposition served only to reward scofflaws, Hain said. "Let’s let the honest people use it, too," is the decision he says township leaders came to.

The township’s first choice still would have been for the city to enforce trespassing, Hain said.

"I’m not happy that it’s kind of come to this," he said.

Officials will monitor for littering, for whether fishermen respect private property and for whether they respect the dawn-to-dusk hours of operation.

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The agreement also calls for closing off the reservoir for fishing during April and November, when migrating pelicans and swans are in it.

"That was pretty important to some of the neighbors," Hain said.

City and township leaders discussed an agreement through the summer, but talks had broken off well before Haverhill Township returned with an offer last month. The township board set its terms at a meeting Nov. 21, Hain said. That they finally sent an offer came as a surprise, Neumann said.

"We’re real grateful to the township for making this happen," Neumann said.

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