I haven’t been completely around Atascadero Lake for weeks. I noticed the roadway next to the lake was blocked for construction as I traveled along Santa Rosa Road between Morro Road and the freeway.
A couple days ago, I saw that the barricades were gone, so I decided to make the trip around the lake to see how it is doing. I’m happy to report that there is indeed water in the lake, but it is barely half full (or half empty, depending on how you see things).
The Friends of Atascadero Lake have done a lot to clean up debris around the shoreline. I’m sure their efforts have spurred the city into paying more attention to what has often been referred to as Atascadero’s “crown jewel.”
Improvements at the lake were financed by money from Proposition 1B and capital projects funds. Lake View Drive has a nice new paved roadway. In addition, the project introduced curbs that separate where people walk and where people drive.
It looks beautiful. I applaud the city’s decision to repave this section of road. It isn’t a major street that carries a lot of vehicular traffic, but it is a short piece of road that helps frame the lake.
I’ve heard arguments over the past 50 years about the use of the small island at the southwest end of the lake. That island was created in the early 1960s when the county took advantage of a dry year to dredge the lake bottom. Instead of hauling the dirt away, it was dumped to create the island. There was talk at one time about putting a bridge over to the island so Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts could camp there overnight. Some want the island left alone, free from human contact.
But now that island is in serious need of some thinning with chainsaws and shears. The growth of the trees and shrubs there really looks shabby.
We need to remove the weeds floating on top of the water. If it doesn’t get removed, the floating plant material will just speed up the algae blooms when the weather turns hot. People in rowboats and kayaks could “rake” it up and haul it ashore.
And the rock wall next to the pavilion is still in need of repair. It has been in that state of ruin you see for more than 40 years.
The perfect time to fix it — while the lake sat empty — is gone. But it looks like we might get a chance again next summer. All this water that is there now could be gone by then.
I’m delighted to see the city’s focus on lake improvements being put on the front burner.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the source of funding for the Atascadero Lake upgrades.