Surf promoter hopes to restore Hostetler ParkPATRICK ALEXANDER
The News Guard
A Lincoln City surf promoter used to talking up the biggest waves on the Oregon Coast is turning his attention to a calmer stretch of water, by trying to persuade the City to bring back a paddling and swimming area at the south end of Devils Lake.
John Forse, organizer of the Nelscott Reef Big Wave Classic surf event, wants to see the City breathe life back into the area around Hostetler Park, which, during its heyday in the 1960s, was home to boat docks, diving boards and even a burger bar catering to motorboats.
The park sits on the north bank of the lake at the mouth of the D River and is currently home to a few picnic tables, a trash can and lots of native vegetation.
“It’s a well-located park and its under-utilized,” Forse said. “It’s just pretty much overgrown and no one wants to go there.”
Forse is gathering signatures to petition City leaders to take action on the site, with the main plank of his sales pitch being a photograph of the area from the early 1960s.
The photograph, courtesy of the North Lincoln Historical Society, shows the park as a vibrant hub for lakeside activity.
Museum Director Anne Hall said the park is named after early settler Henry Hostetler, who donated several portions of land for public projects, including the land used for the Delake school.
Hall said the park was a popular recreation area until the 1964 tsunami, which sent huge logs up the D River, destroying the small beach that had attracted swimmers and boaters to the area.
Forse said he first became interested in the area after hearing that the Lincoln City Urban Renewal Agency was looking for people interested in operating a water sports equipment rental kiosk at the site.
After researching the site’s history, Forse became convinced that it had potential.
“It could be a valuable asset to the city if it was improved,” he said. “And I think it could be a tourist draw as much as the ocean, to tell you the truth.”
Capt. Jim Kusz, of North Lincoln Fire & Rescue District #1, said a swimming area at Hostetler Park would create a safe alternative to the ocean for families that want to recreate with young children.
Kusz, who also serves as a safety consultant for the Big Wave Classic Event, said such a facility would help local water safety advocates drive home their message that “the ocean is not a swimming pool.”
“You can’t tell people ‘don’t do this’ and don’t give them an option,” he said. “Otherwise, you are saying ‘don’t come to the Coast. And we don’t want to say that.”
However, Forse said the area needs more than just a rental kiosk to make it viable, adding that he would like to see more widespread improvements, including dredging to create a swimming area.
With his high-profile role as organizer of the Nelscott surf contest, Forse has a reputation as a man who can get things done but has also been involved in several disputes with local surfers due to disagreements about the event.
Forse said he does not feel that this animosity will be a problem for his new project.
“Somewhere along the line there will be people popping out of the woodwork to try and blow it,” he said. “That’s just the nature of things.”
Forse said he has discussed his ideas informally with several councilors, with the next step being a formal presentation to Council.
“I don’t want to impose my vision on the City,” he said. “It’s for Council to figure out what they want to do. But I know it could be more than it is. It’s a joke. This is just wasted space.”
The kiosk concept is currently on hold after receiving a cold welcome from councilors when they considered the Lincoln City Urban Renewal Agency budget for the coming fiscal year.
After hearing concerns from some members of the public about the proposed location and purpose of the kiosk, councilors directed staff not to spend any more time on the project until explicitly instructed to do so.
A presentation on the project is scheduled for the Agency’s July 11 meeting.
Meanwhile, Forse’s proposal is scheduled for discussion at the Thursday, July 7 meeting of the Devils Lake Water Improvement District, 6 p.m. in Suite D, 820 S.E. Highway 101.