Atascadero approves plan for submarine rides

The Atascadero City Council on Tuesday approved a local businessman’s plans to place a submarine at Atascadero Lake Park, but residents will likely still have to wait a year to see the craft.

Lloyd Reeves had initially proposed bringing the submarine to the North County this spring. However, he said Tuesday he prefers more time to plan field trips and history lessons with local schools since students are now nearing summer vacation.

The council voted 4-0 to approve Reeves’ proposal. Mayor Roberta Fonzi was absent.

The submarine — a quarter-scale replica of a World War II vessel powered by an electric motor — is expected to offer rides and tours on a 90-day trial period from mid-April to mid-July 2011 if the lake levels are up.

Reeves had said between 12 and 15 visitors could board the 42-foot craft but now says rides would be limited to six people per his insurance.

The lake rides would be on the water’s surface, he added, and the submarine wouldn’t be submerged or have underwater viewing capabilities. Visitors would view the wartime memorabilia displayed inside.

Reeves put forward a similar proposal in 2002, which failed because it wasn’t popular with the community. Reeves didn’t receive much resistance this time, but some wondered about the craft’s safety.

The submarine has offered similar tours in Redondo Beach and was approved in a Coast Guard inspection, city officials said.

Riders age 12 and younger would be required to wear a life jacket. It would take three separate holes in various places for the 4,000-pound vessel to sink, Reeves said.