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Man refloats idea of submarine in Atascadero

Lloyd Reeves, right, helps students onto his S-44 historic submarine replica  which he brought to Morro Bay High School for his daughter Wynn's World  History class project. Photo by Joe Johnston 3-24-09
Lloyd Reeves, right, helps students onto his S-44 historic submarine replica which he brought to Morro Bay High School for his daughter Wynn's World History class project. Photo by Joe Johnston 3-24-09 The Tribune

The man who proposed placing a submarine in Atascadero Lake in 2002 is back again and set to go before the Atascadero Parks and Recreation Commission on Thursday night.

Lloyd Reeves, a local businessman who runs the paddleboat and kayak concession at the lake, is again proposing to place his quarter-scale replica of a World War II submarine in the North County lake.

This time, it’s for rides and tours on a 90-day trial period from mid-April to mid-July if the lake levels are up. He would then remove it during the off-season.

Between 12 and 15 visitors could board the 42-foot craft to view the wartime memorabilia that hang inside. The lake rides would be on the water’s surface, and the submarine wouldn’t be submerged.

When the community sunk Reeves’ first proposal, concerns ranged from the boat being too large for the lake to its military theme being out of place at a family park.

This time, city staff says similar questions remain.

“I think the primary questions here are do people feel it’s appropriate and in character with Atascadero Lake, and if so, are we willing to amend the municipal code to allow it,” community services director Brady Cherry said.

Atascadero municipal code doesn’t allow for boats with a motor greater than 1 horsepower. The submarine has an electric motor and is rated by watts, according to the city staff report, equivalent to 7 or 8 horsepower.

Reeves said the 1928 S-44 U.S. submarine replica is a good fit for the park and could attract tourists and veterans to Atascadero.

“I don’t want to spend money doing something unpopular,” Reeves said of his proposal, which he says would cost him about $8,000 to install and insure — more than what he could make off admission.

He would charge $5 for kids and $10 for adults and make admission free to veterans. He also hopes to boost his paddleboat business and awareness for lake activities.

The craft is not like Reeves’ former glass-bottom boat business that he sold several years ago to an operator in Morro Bay. Some people thought fish viewing was his primary pitch in 2002, but that wasn’t the case, he said.

“I wouldn’t put that kind (of glass-bottom boat) in the lake because that wouldn’t work with the water,” he said. “This is for tours and rides. Just something new and fun to do there.”

The submarine has been on East Coast waters and at local schools, such as its 2009 visit to Morro Bay High School for Reeves’ daughter’s world history project. Recently, Reeves has had trouble finding the sub a home as stints in Avila Beach and Ventura Harbor fell through, he said.

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