The old saying is attributed to Yogi Berra: It's like deja vu all over again.
That's the inescapable feeling taxpayers get after seeing Columbia County commissioners go to the well once again for more money to repair the Wildwood Park "mega" ramps. Deja vu, and a little queasiness, too.
See, we've been here before. One year ago, when summertime lake levels dropped, county officials realized the $1.1 million ramps at Wildwood were about as useful as a bicycle to a fish. The ramps didn't reach far enough for trailers to get boats into the water.
Which, we probably don't need to point out, is the whole point of a "boat ramp."
To rescue the taxpayers' investment and hang on to the national fishing tournaments that the Wildwood upgrades attracted, county officials spent another $105,000 to repair the ramps.
That should have fixed the problem. But it didn't.
Why? They failed to heed the proverbial warning against being penny-wise and pound-foolish.
If there is anything that can be forecast reliably, it is that the Clarks Hill Lake level will drop during the summer. Full pool is 330 feet above sea level; when Columbia County built the mega ramps at Wildwood, the concrete slabs extended to a lake level of 323 feet.
The problem? As is usually the case in summertime conditions, the lake level is down. Current pool at the lake is a little less than 322 feet - a foot away from the end of the ramps. Because the ramps come up short, trailers roll from concrete into mud before the boats ever hit the water.
So what about those $105,000 extensions last year? There's another old saying: You get what you pay for. The county opted for cheaper, prefab concrete "mats" - glorified cinderblocks - that eventually sank uselessly into the silt at the end of the ramps.
Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Beda Johnson has done an outstanding job of marketing Wildwood, and this weekend has brought in nearly 200 boats from across the country to the Skeeter Owners Tournament.
Last year's on-the-cheap repairs have left her hanging, like those boat-trailers falling off the ends of the useless ramps. Tournament organizers had to scramble to find additional launch sites.
The good news? Commissioners this week agreed to spend more money to again repair the ramps. Obviously it's too late for the Skeeter tournament, but this winter's work should be finished in time for next spring's major national tournaments.
County officials haven't yet determined exactly how they'll fix the ramps this time around, but commissioners voted to spend "up to $120,000" for the repairs. Judging from the money wasted on last year's quick fix, there's a truism they'd do well to remember as they decide how to tackle the problem yet again:
Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
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