Lake Hennessey, one of the fishing areas closest to Napa, has seen little action this winter because of strong winds last September that made the boat dock unusable.

“It was blown catywhompus. It’s no longer safe,” Joy Eldredge, the city of Napa’s water general manager, said last week.

While working on a fix, the city closed the dock and the public parking lot at Lake Hennessey, the city’s main reservoir on Highway 128 in the Upvalley hills east of Silverado Trail.

Eldredge said the city closed off public recreation because the 65-foot dock is both unusable and a liability issue.

Conditions will be eased somewhat later this month. The dock will be hauled out of the water and the public use area reopened, allowing small boats to be launched from the ramp, Eldredge said.

The damaged dock hasn’t been touched for the past four months while the state Department of Boating and Waterways, which has agreed to pay for repairs, assesses the situation, she said.

“We’re subject to their time frame, which I’m sure is frustrating to everyone at this point,” Eldredge said.

In a normal, rainy winter, boating at Lake Hennessey would drop off considerably, but this winter has been anything but normal, she said. If the dock were in operation, the lake would likely be seeing considerable use from fishing and pleasure boaters, she said.

Repairing the 20-year-old dock is likely to cost $20,000 to $25,000, said Eldredge, citing state estimates. The state paid for the dock originally, she said.

Eldredge expects the work could be done by late spring, in time for the peak recreation season when 50 or so people a day use Hennessey for fishing and boating.

The dock was damaged by high winds that swept across the expanse of water last September, twisting the metal stays that keep the dock on tracks while it rises and falls with changing reservoir levels, Eldredge said.

When the dock is hauled out of the water this month, the parking lot will be reopened, giving the public access once again to picnic facilities, she said.

Even during the shutdown, the restrooms at Lake Hennessey have remained open for travelers in need, she said.

Lake Hennessey remains 72 percent full and attractive to boaters despite the dry weather of the past 12 months, Eldredge said. Nearly 20 inches of rain fell in November and December 2012, filling the reservoir to overflowing.

(1) comment


You can bet if more rich winery owners were fishing in that lake the Dock would have been rebuilt pronto! The article said it has taken them 4 months to make a decision....In my business, you would be fired for taking that long.

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