The Flathead Lake Alpine Coaster is open for business after more than a year of opposition to the project.
Traffic safety improvements required by the Montana Department of Transportation will open at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the attraction, located north of U.S. 93 in Lakeside, company representatives announced on its Facebook page.
Traffic safety concerns emerged as a major bone of contention last year between neighbors and the beach’s owners, Jessica and Torsten Wedel.
A new turn lane and other road improvements have been approved by the state, according to an email from Transportation Department officials. On Tuesday, agency staff conducted a final inspection and signed off on the approach from US 93 to the Coaster site.
Jessica Wedel said Tuesday that the beach has recently brought in local residents as an employee, and she hopes the attraction will be good. Flathead Lake Alpine Coaster is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., according to its website.
Still, potential problems remain. The Flathead City-County Health Department confirmed it is looking into a complaint about the property not having the required water and sewer permits. Environmental Health Manager Jim Wardenski said the Wedels had previously told officials they planned to deal with waste and water through lakeside wastewater treatment.
He said his department would review the allegations and contact the Wedels and the relevant government agencies.
Jessica Wedel said Tuesday that the couple has filed the necessary permits and is currently using a well on the property. Their septic permit is under review, and they have submitted an application to the Department of Environmental Quality for a multi-use water system. She said she believed they were compliant.
Department of Environmental Quality officials confirmed Tuesday that the attraction’s permits are being reviewed.
The Wedels head the North American branch of Wiegand, a German company that manufactures slides, toboggan runs and non-powered roller coasters. The couple told the Daily Interlake in 2021 that Wiegand was not involved in their business plans.
Community protests on the beach began to pick up pace in the spring of last year.
Wedels previously wanted to build an attraction in Lake County. County commissioners there rejected the zoning change, citing traffic concerns.
Residents of Lakeside and nearby Somers raised those concerns when plans to build an alpine coaster on US 93 in Flathead County were announced. The beach and its potential impact on the busy highway became the focus of community groups like the Upper West Shore Alliance.
The furore over the Alpine coaster has also led to discussions about zoning in Lake Sain. In May, members of the recently resurrected Lake Dar Community Council and the Flathead County Planning and Zoning Office held a community meeting to introduce the rezoning proposal.
The former owes its rebirth in part to the coast. The project spurred efforts to improve community representation in the county administration. The Community Council works with the Planning and Zoning Office to review applications affecting development in the lakefront area.
Correspondent Taylor Inman can be reached at 406-758-4433 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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