The New London public works committee decided Monday they would not assist property owners along Fern Lake with a drainage pipe issue that is causing below normal water levels.
Fern Lake is a private pond surrounded by 16 homes in the Mayflower Park plat recorded in June of 1972. The pond, named Fern Lake after the developer’s wife, is spring fed, but also serves as a catch basin for nearby streets and property in the subdivision.
A resident discovered the crack in the lake’s overflow pipe in April. It has reportedly caused the lake level to drop nearly a foot and half.
The 12-inch metal overflow pipe runs from the north end of the lake to Martin Street. A 12-inch drainage pipe flows into the south west side of the lake from Mayflower Court.
A resident concerned with dropping water levels in the lake asked if the city could assist in repairing the cracked overflow pipe.
Public Works Director Jeff Bodoh and his staff completed a record search for the property before Monday night’s meeting. They found the lake is in the Mayflower Park Plat covenants as a private lake and not to be property of the city. They also found no recorded easements for the drainpipe.
Based on the findings Bodoh recommended that the city not assist property owners with the cracked drainpipe.
City Administrator Kent Hager, who lives on the lake, noted that it also serves as a retention pond for storm water from city streets in that area.
Alderwoman Lori Dean asked if the public is allowed to use the lake. She was told, “No it’s recorded as a private lake.”
Kris Reismann, a property owner along the lake voiced his concern for safety if the water level remains low throughout the summer months. He said it will likely cause problems with weeds and possible algae blooms.
Council President John Romberg stated, “The issue here is private versus public.” Lori Dean agreed. Bodoh then suggested he could have the drainage pipe televised to find out the condition of the pipe and severity of the crack, when the city does their routine televising of storm and sewer pipes.
Alderman Bob Besaw said, “Then are we going to televise every private lateral in the city?”
Alderman Dennis Herter made a motion to not assist property owners with the pipe and Dean seconded the motion.
Before a vote could be taken, however, Reismann spoke up and said, “I disagree. So the city supports putting water into the lake but not when it comes out?”
He also noted that several years ago when the inflow pipe needed repair, city crews completed the work. Bodoh agreed, however, said he found no record of the work. Mayor Gary Henke noted that the work was done under the direction of a former public works director without prior approval from council.
“I’m not sure who authorized that,” explained Bodoh. “I was unaware of it until one of my street crew members pointed it out to me,” he explained.
The discussion went back to the private versus public debate.
“Ordinarily there is a definitive agreement in place within the covenants before the first house is even built,” explained Hager. “In this case there’s no wording in the covenants as to who pays what,” said Hager. “So what’s the solution?” he asked.
Henke stated, “That’s all the property owner’s responsibility along the lake.”
“Block off the pipe,” said Lori Dean.
It was also noted that the covenants state in section 18 that, “The owners of the lots having frontage on Fern Lake shall share equally in the responsibility and cost for the maintenance of said lake, including the pumping of its water supply when and if necessary…”