Washington County boathouse tussle hits stalemate
The former operator of the Henry Hagg Lake boathouse and Washington County are deadlocked over her complaint that the county parks superintendent intimidated her, and that the county discriminated against her and ended her contract, because she is a transgender woman.
Jillian Robinson says she received a letter last week informing her that County Administrator Robert Davis has canceled an investigation by human resources — which falls under the county administrative office — and the matter has been turned over to an outside law firm.
Robinson said the letter came after she met twice with a Washington County human resources analyst, once for three hours and once for an hour and a half, and was asked on Oct. 25 to supply more information. She said she has not been allowed to meet with any county official other than a purchasing manager, Suzi Fulcher, who signed the letter ending her concession contract on Oct. 31.
Robinson has alleged that, after previous run-ins that did not involve physical force, parks superintendent Carl Switzer attempted to force his way past Robinson into the boathouse on Oct. 1, over her objections. She said a further confrontation was averted when her manager intervened. Robinson filed a complaint with the county, which then notified her it was terminating her contract. No reason was provided, although under the terms of the contract, none was required.
The county has declined to comment, citing an active investigation.
Doing business as Robinson Family Lake House, Robinson had held the concession at Hagg Lake and Scoggins Valley Park — which Washington County operates under an agreement with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation — from June 2018 until the county ended her contract early on Oct. 31 of this year. The contract has been set to end in May 2020.
She rented boats, canoes, kayaks, paddle boards and pedal boats, and also offered food and beverages.
"I am still currently living at the lake, but my 'open' sign has not been on since Oct. 31," Robinson said. "I have been turning away customers and their families daily for rentals and food."
Robinson said she has raised the dispute at a couple of business meetings of county commissioners, but Chairwoman Kathryn Harrington cut her off after she mentioned the investigation.
A Washington County Sheriff's Office employee served notice from Fulcher on Nov. 1, the day after the contract ended, that Robinson would have to vacate the boathouse on Hagg Lake. Robinson was invited later to meet with Fulcher to set up a plan, but Robinson said she declined to meet without her own lawyers being present.
"I have no money to move everything, nowhere to move it to, and nowhere to move my RV to live in with my infant son," Robinson said. "It is really tough to uproot your whole life and business and start over, especially at the beginning of winter in a state that already has a housing crisis."
She said she owes $65,000 to the previous building owner for permanent improvements in power, water and sewer lines required by the county.
Robinson also said she fears losing equipment she owns if she moves.
"Even if I find a place to move my RV to, I have nowhere to move the building, tools, motors, barefoot watercraft, or boats to. If I leave the lake, these items will be left vulnerable," Robinson said.
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