Weyauwega Lake Restoration wants a lake district created for Lake Weyauwega and plans to seek the signatures of property owners on the lake to file a petition for the creation of one.
“It is for the betterment of the community,” Jim Tolfa told the Weyauwega Common Council during its Aug. 18 meeting. Tolfa is the vice president of Weyauwega Lake Restoration, the group that works to raise funds for the maintenance of the lake.
Lake Weyauwega is located both in the city and in the town of Weyauwega and was drawn down from June 17, 2011 until April of 2013.
When Tolfa asked the city if it would support the creation of a lake district, City Attorney James Kalny told Tolfa the first step is missing.
That first step is a petition signed by 51 percent of the landowners in the proposed district.
Since two municipalities have jurisdiction over the lake’s frontage, the petition must be filed with the county, Kalny said.
“Normally, the first step is to identify who is interested,” he said.
Tolfa said the lake group first wanted a response from the city about whether it would support creating a lake district, before members sought the signatures of property owners.
He said the group has the names and addresses of those who live in a 1,000 foot radius around the lake and plans to seek the signatures of those property owners to file a petition to create a lake district.
Noting the group will have to seek the city’s signature, Council President Nick Gunderson said he does not want the city to say “yes” or “no” until the signatures of other property owners are sought.
“I wouldn’t want the city to sway the decision of anyone,” he said.
Mayor Mike Kempf agreed, saying, “I’d rather have you go get the 51 percent first and then come to us.”
Tolfa said the first question that will come up as they seek signatures will be about taxes.
That is because lake districts have the power to tax within their districts for programs related to lake protection or rehabilitation.
State statutes define the measures as including surveys of sources of degradation, treatment of aquatic nuisances and getting local governments to cooperate to enact ordinances to enhance opportunities for public enjoyment of a lake.
Tolfa said the lake group’s primary objective is to rid the lake of weeds.
Mark Kordus, of Stantec, also attended the council meeting.
Weyauwega Lake Restoration recently began working with him to survey what invasive species are on the lake.
Kordus said he knows there are three invasives on the lake: Eurasian Milfoil, Curly-leaf Pondweed and Flowering Rush.
The Eurasian Milfoil looks to under control, he said.
A drawdown mimics Mother Nature, Kordus said.
He saw a slight increase in the amount of Curly-leaf Pondweed on the lake and said there appears to be a need for some type of management of it.
Kordus works with municipalities, lake associations and lake districts.
Municipalities and districts have the ability to assess taxes.
The assessments in lake districts are typically low, he said.
The dam stops the natural transportation of sediment in the water, Kordus said.
“It is never going to be a pristine, clear lake,” he said of Lake Weyauwega. “You can lessen the impact. Water manipulation is a good tool. It mimics Mother Nature.”
Gunderson said it is up to those who live in the proposed district whether they want a district or not.
“Let them signatures and seek what happens,” he said of the lake group.
The city’s attorney said if the group brings a petition back to the council, the council will then have to decide if it wants the city to be in the district.