9/26/2013 4:29:00 PM Funds sought for channel weir analysis
by DENISE MARTIN
The Task Force appointed by the county board to look into the feasibility of creating a channelized boating link between North Center and North Lindstrom Lakes has completed its review which included 495 people participating in a survey over a few weeks in August. The concept won 3 to 1 support with survey-takers in favor of creating a navigable channel. If survey takers have their way the channel and the bridge over it would ideally be of a size to allow pontoons, with canopy in the up position, to traverse the route.
With the Task Force assignment complete next up was the Chisago Lakes Lake Improvement District. LID members voted unanimously this month, with member Steve Paquay absent, to ask for $34,300 from the County Board. The LID supports the task force’s recommendation to do an engineering analysis of the feasibility of installing what’s called a removeable weir in the channel route. Many survey takers expressed concerns about lake levels should there be an enhanced connection between North Center and North Lindstrom lakes.
Channel responses were broken down for details from those in favor and opposed. Of 121 “anti-channel” responses there was great concern about drawing down the water level of North Center Lake if the channel was just a wide open connection. The County Board will get the LID’s engineering study funding request at its October 16 daytime County Board meeting. County Environmental Services Director Kurt Jensen Schneider explained that at this time there is only funding sought for more study and no details are available about precisely how a weir is proposed to function. The over-riding issue for the Task Force was the lakes’ levels, Schneider continued.
At one of the earlier Task Force meetings it was explained (Press story Aug. 1) that if a project will have an impact on lake levels then 100 percent of affected property owners must support a project. State laws governing regulation and permitting of projects like this have been revised in recent years. Task Force members understood that 100 percent is not likely, Schneider remarked. Survey responses reinforced this message as well. Many responses also highlighted concerns about project cost, stating government has better ways to spend money, they didn’t see the benefit in creating flow between an impaired lake and another lake basin rated with higher water quality.
For some, the concept of a “boating freeway” was not desireable. Survey respondents who said they support the channelization said they would like an improved boating experience. Also, connecting the lakes will enhance property values because “more lake acres” become accessible. They feel more visitors will come and boost the local economy because of a better day on the water. Meanwhile the bridge on North Lakes Trail (County Road 20)-- which spans the currently non-navigable channel-- is slated for replacement in a year or two. Schneider said the Task Force was not charged with looking at that bridge. A “process needs to happen” for that as a separate project, Schneider explained. The height (elevation over the channel route), bridge width or other design elements are integral to the navigation question but the review leading up to this point, had nothing to do with a bridge project.