2013 BPLA August Update

August 24, 2013

Our annual association meeting was held on August 17th at the Crosslake Community Center with a record attendance. We were fortunate to have Corrine Hodapp from the Army Corps of Engineers as our guest speaker at this meeting. Corinne talked about the history of the Corps of Engineers and the Crosslake dam, and explained her duties as dam supervisor so that everyone would have a clear understanding as to what the Corps can and can’t do as far as controlling water levels on their watershed and on the Mississippi river.

Sadly, Jon Gfroerer has left the board as he is in the process of selling his home and moving closer to his family. At our meeting, the attendees voted to add a 7th member to our Board of Directors due to increased responsibilities brought about mostly because of our issues with the rock dam. Current board members and positions are Nancy Rudberg (President), Bill O’Brien (Vice President), Terri Rammer (Secretary), Dave Rudberg (Treasurer), and Richard Rammer, Dennis Bengtson, and Ken Ormsbee as members at large. We welcome Dennis and Ken to the team. Terri Rammer will be posting the full minutes from this meeting on the website as soon as they are completed.

If you missed the annual meeting, I would like to update you as to what’s been happening with our dam. On June 18th, most of the Board of Directors attended an informal initial planning meeting that included 3 members of the Army Corps of Engineers, 3 representatives from the DNR, 1 person from the Soil and Waters Conservation District, both Crow Wing County engineers, and our County Commissioner. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss hydrology, design, permits, and other issues involved with finding a more permanent solution to our dam. On July 23rd, lake association board members attended a CWC Board of Commissioners meeting to discuss the outcome of this meeting and Tim Bray, the head County Engineer, was asked to come up with some kind of plan outline by the next Board meeting on August 6th. On this date, lake association board members were again present when Mr. Bray informed the Commissioners that he did not have the personnel or the expertise about dams to start the ball rolling on this plan as he had been directed to do by the Commissioners. He asked that the County authorize up to $10,000 for him to contract with an outside consultant to get this going. This money was approved and may ultimately have to be repaid by the lake association Subordinate Service District fund (when it is replenished) or possibly paid out of the County’s general fund (this was not decided at this time). It is estimated that it could ultimately cost upwards of $50,000 to do a full study to get any kind of plan in place. Also, it could take one to two years for this whole process to be completed.

At our annual meeting, the residents present agreed overwhelmingly that the amount of our SSD annual assessment should be raised to $200 per property owner since the current $100 does not begin to cover what we have needed to spend just to maintain our dam since the SSD was formed in 2010, let alone to fund any studies or permanent changes. With $11,000 spent to remove the bogs last year and $27,000 spent this spring to fix the large washout on the far side of the dam, we are under water financially and actually owe money to the County (even with a FEMA reimbursement of almost $7,000). Melissa Barrick from the Soil and Water Conservation District had told us at the June 18th meeting that she had $2,500 to give us in grant money, but she did not specify at that time if this money had to be used for actual repairs or should be put towards a formal study. On August 20th, I attended a meeting with the County Engineer at SWCD to clarify this issue. The SWCD folks were kind enough at this meeting to direct that this money could be used to pay off the $27,000 repair from earlier this spring. This amount should close the deficit that we will owe the County for this repair after taxes are collected for the second half of this year, but be aware that we will still be almost down to just about zero in our SSD account after these taxes are paid.

Please keep in mind that we may not even be allowed to see our vision of a more permanent dam come to fruition if the Corps of Engineers and DNR do not allow permits for whatever changes might be suggested by the experts. It has been said more than once over the years that our dam was not built in the right place in 1970, and that it should have been placed farther downstream. One person at the June 18th meeting, the Army Corps of Engineers person who is in charge of issuing COE permits, told us that it is most likely that the COE would never issue any permit to move the dam and that it may not even approve certain modifications to the dam in its current location. Unfortunately, we may ultimately have to give up on the dream of a more permanent dam and accept that the best we can do is keep the SSD assessment viable so that we can do periodic maintenance as needed. Our biggest issue is funding, since as you all know the lake residents and no other entities are solely financially responsible for maintaining the dam. We are constantly looking for grant sources and would appreciate any help that any of you can give us in researching this issue. At the SWCD meeting on August 20th, we were told that those folks would try and assist us in grant research but we still need to look into all possible sources ourselves. Even though we can’t actually request any grants until there is some kind of formal plan in place, we can still check into grant sources. In the meantime, we are playing the waiting game until the County finishes its research for a more permanent solution.

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