Who Owns The Dam? 4/7/17
Who owns the Chelsea Lake Dam? Who will pay for the required maintenance and studies which are required by the DNR? At Friday’s meeting of the Forestry and Recreation Committee, chairman Chuck Zenner indicated he has met with representatives of the Chelsea Conservation Club and that he sees 3 options for the future of the dam: They could remove the dam, the county could take ownership, or a lake district could be created which would then take control of the dam.
The DNR has indicated that a culvert, a riser and a flood dam analysis need to be done at an estimated cost of $25,000. Mr Zenner indicated that for a lake district to be formed, 51% of the landowners must approve. There currently are 27 landowners around Chelsea Lake including Taylor County which owns the boat landing and a park.
At issue is a 25 year old county board resolution which was passed in 1993. At that time the Conservation Club installed the dike and culvert, and the county indicated they would pay for future maintenance and repairs. Several representatives of Chelsea Conservation Club expressed their frustration over the county’s unwillingness to pay for the maintenance. It was noted that the dam is on county land but in the opinion of the DNR, the county doesn’t own the dam.
The cost of creating a lake district is $3,000 to $5,000. The lake district would have taxing powers but would also be qualified for grant programs. The lake district could be comprised of Taylor County, the Town of Chelsea, and the surrounding land owners.
Committee member Michael Bub made an amended motion to recommend the county board approve that once the Chelsea Lake District is created, the county would allocate up to $5,000 for the district creation legal fees, and up to $20,000 for the currently required maintenance and flood dam studies. All future expenses would be incurred by the Chelsea Lake District. Ownership of the dike and dam would revert to the lake district. The county would maintain ownership of the boat landing and park. The motion passed unanimously. County clerk Bruce Strama indicated that the lake district would qualify for a 50% grant.
Michael Bub told the group that the measure was a good compromise, and that he wanted a long term solution to fix a 25 year mess.
The issue of what to do with the Chelsea Lake Dam will be voted on by the Taylor County Board at their April 18th meeting.