Shoreline restoration may take 10 years
By Robert Cloud
After years of conflict, the Little Hope Lake District was dissolved by court order.
“The Little Hope Lake District is not valid nor currently in existence and is void ab initio,” according to an order issued by Judge Raymond Huber.
The order brings to a close three years of conflict and litigation over the lake district’s existence.
As part of the stipulations in Huber’s order, the Dayton Town Board will vote at its Oct. 20 meeting to rescind the Sept. 2012 resolution that created the lake district.
The Dayton Town Board must also rescind the document filed with the Waupaca County Register of Deeds that set the boundaries for the lake district.
A third and final step requires that the town of Dayton “take all steps necessary to have the Wisconsin Department of Revenue remove the Little Hope Lake District” as a special-purpose taxing district.
The order resolves a lawsuit Waupaca County filed against the town of Dayton, the Little Hope Lake District and four township officials in May 2014.
The county contended that the Dayton Town Board did not follow proper procedures when establishing the lake district.
In November 2013, Huber stayed the election of the lake district’s board in response to a suit filed by Crystal River shoreline residents who did not want to be in the lake district.
The plaintiffs argued that their rights were violated when former town chairman Chris Klein only allowed one vote per parcel at the Little Hope Lake District’s first annual meeting.
Judge Vicki Clussman dismissed the residents’ lawsuit after Huber dissolved the lake district.
Crystal River recovery
After the dam was removed, property owners along what used to be the Little Hope Mill Pond saw their shorelines vanish as the water receded and revealed the thick muck that had been at the bottom of the pond.
They learned at a special town meeting Thursday, Oct. 8, that it will be many years before their shorelines are restored.
Currently, the Crystal River is flowing through multiple, shallow channels where the pond used to be. It is unsafe to walk along much of the shoreline.
Scott Koehnke, a water management specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said it will take about 10 years for the Crystal River to revert to its natural channel and move the sediment downstream that had been deposited behind the dam.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” Koehnke said. “It will be five to 10 years before you can walk on it.”