The Little Hope Mill Pond on the Crystal River is gone.
Along with the shimmering water went the beauty it imparted to the countryside along its banks.
The original dam was constructed to provide waterpower to the grist mill that was built at the same time in 1855.
While the mill ceased grinding grain in 1922, it is still standing. It is now the Red Mill, a gift shop that has become a valuable tourist attraction to Waupaca County.
The mill pond created by that dam is no longer needed to provide water power for the mill. However, it provides tranquil beauty to the river setting and offers a place for recreation such as tubing, canoeing, kayaking and fishing.
Many tourists come from faraway places to Waupaca County to see and enjoy Little Hope Mill Pond on the Crystal River.
Be aware that a faction in county government wants to take the old dam out completely and not replace it with a new dam. If this is done the Little Hope Mill Pond will be gone forever and there will be little hope of our ever enjoying the beauty and recreational opportunities it has provided for so many folks for so many years.
Some of Waupaca County’s valuable tourism trade would go down with the water, washed away forever.
This negative action would be because the cost of building a new dam is more than than cost to remove the old dam.
If the county parks and recreation committee would apply for a DNR 50/50 matching grant and got it (about $200,000) and the remaining $200,000 was added to the tax levy for one (1) year it would add one nickel per $1,000 of assessed value, according to information from Waupaca County Treasurers office. My tax bill would be increased by only $10 for one year.
If the county did not get the 50/50 grant, they could go to bonding and over a 10-year period the added tax dollars would be just pennies a year per $1,000 of assessed value. The dam is an asset that can be used for bonding purposes.
There is a cost of putting in a new dam and restoring the Little Hope Mill Pond to its previous beauty and pleasurable uses, providing a valuable tourist attraction.
We have been told by the Parks and Recreation Department director that the cost of removal of the dam would be pennies compared to the cost of a new dam. If the dam was removed forever what would we have left? Just a few pennies in the Crystal River mud flats that we see now.
I strong;y urge the county Parks and Recreation Committee to vote to replace the dam and restore the Little Hope Dam, Little Hope Mill Pond and the Crystal River to what it has been for over 150 years. They would be voting to restore the quality of life for all area residents and tourists who enjoy its scenic beauty.