A resolution to cover nude swimming at Clinton Lake could well be expanded to ban nudity at other public facilities in the county.
After a public hearing on the proposed resolution Wednesday, Douglas County commissioners decided to ask county staff to look into a broader resolution. County regulations currently prohibit nude swimming or sunbathing only at Lone Star Lake.
Commissioners had been considering a resolution to prohibit nudity solely at Clinton Lake. Violators would be fined up to $25.
Local officials had assumed current laws prohibited nudity at the lake until some people told the sheriff last fall they planned to do some nude swimming, County Administrator Chris McKenzie told commissioners earlier this month.
The sheriff told the would-be skinny dippers they couldn't swim nude at Clinton Lake but later learned no laws forbid it, McKenzie said.
DAVE HIGGINS, rural Linwood, urged commissioners Wednesday not to adopt the resolution prohibiting nudity at Clinton.
Higgins said fellow members of Kansans for a Natural Society, a group that sunbathes nude at a private lake outside Douglas County, approached the sheriff last year about bringing that activity to Clinton.
"To begin with, I believe the resolution is unnecessary," Higgins said. "The last time I checked, Clinton Lake and park was not in any imminent danger of being overrun by nude sunbathers."
Higgins said existing state statutes on lewd and lascivious conduct and disorderly conduct would cover "problem cases" at the lake.
HIGGINS OFFERED two alternatives to the resolution.
The first would be to add a clause to the resolution that imposes two more conditions that must be met before a nudity citation could be issued: That a member of the public be willing to sign a complaint and that the offender must refuse to dress when requested to by a law enforcement officer.
Douglas County Sheriff Loren Anderson opposed the conditions, saying they would make enforcing the resolution more difficult.
The second alternative, Higgins said, would be to set aside an area at the lake that is specifically posted for "clothing optional" use.
Dave Rhoades, park manager at Clinton Lake, said Army Corps of Engineers officials oppose allowing any nude swimming or sunbathing because they don't think it's appropriate for the family-type setting at the lake. Clinton isn't big enough to set aside one "clothing optional" area that's truly secluded, he said.
SINCE THE nudity question has surfaced, Anderson said he's heard many comments from people saying they don't want nude swimming at Clinton Lake.
Commissioner Louie McElhaney said he wanted county staff to look at writing a resolution that would ban nudity at all public facilities in the county, including Wells Overlook Park, Douglas County State Lake and the county's portion of Broken Arrow Park.
"I'm not opposed to it (nudity) on private property," he said, only in public areas.
Commissioners Mike Amyx and Nancy Hiebert backed McElhaney's suggestion, although they said they wanted to hear more from Anderson about enforcing the wider-ranging resolution.
Afterwards, Higgins expressed disappointment but said he wasn't surprised by the commission's anti-nudity stance.
"They're looking at passing a law we always felt had existed," he said, adding that when his group learned otherwise, they wanted county officials to be aware of their feelings. He said the group included about 150 members, mainly in the Lawrence-Kansas City area.
Higgins said he didn't know whether he or his group would pursue the matter any further.
IN OTHER business, commissioners unanimously:
Approved an agreement with the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railway to spray noxious weeds along the railroad right of way this year. Under the agreement, the county will be paid up to $2,000 for the work.
Approved three contracts for right of way for the Douglas County Road 1023 grading project. The project takes in 1023 from U.S. Highway 40 north three miles.
Decided to advertise for bids for a car and county band radio for building codes inspection. Commissioners asked county staff to ask for bids for both mid-sized and compact cars so they could compare costs.