Chelsea Dam Ownership Is Decided 6/29/17
The future of the Chelsea Lake Dam now is the responsibility of Taylor County. After countless hours at various meeting of haggling to determine who actually owns the dam and who should pay for required studies, the county board voted to establish ownership of the dam. The meeting started with County Forester Jake Walcisak handing out maps which showed who the adjoining landowners to the dam were. He indicated that in his opinion there was a serious breech on the Tlusty property and no legal access to it. DNR representative Mark Stevens told the board he noted that water was spilling over 2 or 3 areas of the berm with some erosion occurring. To minimize erosion he recommended removing boards from the dam so the water level is lowered to allow 2 or 3 feet of free board on the dam. Today’s level was estimated at 1 foot of free board on the dam.
With several other county board members proposing removal of the dam, Supervisor Gene Knoll asked how the removal of the dam would impact the lake. It was noted that if the berm washed out the lake level would drop about 2 feet, but if the dam was removed the lake level could drop 4 to 5 feet. To illustrate the impact, the current surface water is 120 acres, but without the dam it would drop to about half, or 57 acres.
As if to say we should drain the swamp, Supervisor Chuck Zenner drew moans from the crowd of about 20 people who support the future of the lake when he said that he felt that the lake is on a big wetland and that it would actually be a “prettier area without the dam”.
It was noted that if the county owns the dam they qualify for a 50% cost sharing grant while the Chelsea Conservation Club wouldn’t qualify for a grant.
After much discussion, Supervisor Mildbrand told the group that those who opposed the dam had been afforded about 30 minutes and he wished for 3 minutes to say why he was in favor of county ownership. Mildbrand indicated that due to a clerical error over 30 years ago the transfer of the title to the land from the conservation club to the county was never completed. He said that it was his firm conviction that the county fully intended to take ownership of the dam. Due to the clerical error, the title to the dam is in the Chelsea Conservation Club’s name.
Property owner John Tlusty addressed the board and expressed his surprise and disappointment that county officials had been on his land to assess the status of the berm. He said he would have appreciated a phone call prior to them inspecting or trespassing on his land.
Tlusty said that powerline impact money had been used to improve the court house grounds and could be used for Chelsea Lake.
Land owner Steve Mayer suggested that the berms on the north end of the lake act as auxiliary spillways. He expressed his frustration with someone who inserted a 4 by 8 timber instead of a 4 by 4 on the dam.
Lester Lewis quoted a county code which would require an environmental assessment before the transfer could take place. Attorney Ken Schmiege objected indicating that the transaction involved a transfer of title and not a purchase. Supervisor Dave Krug indicated that Taylor County has several beautiful lakes and that Chelsea Lake is one of those gems.
With some minor language changes, the resolution which was drafted by Scott Mildbrand to establish Taylor County ownership of the Chelsea Lake Dam passed by a 14 to 3 vote with supervisors Zenner, Lewis and Brooks voting no. Following the positive vote, Greg Krug told the county board that the Mayer family had offered to donate an additional 40 feet of land near the dam while a second family was interested in donating land near a boat landing.
The county ownership of the dam is contingent upon the Chelsea Conservation Club providing $12,000 to be applied toward complying with DNR directives. Additional funds could be requested from the powerline funds or the county’s forestry account.
In addition to authorizing ownership of the Chelsea Lake Dam, the county board passed a resolution expressing their appreciation to Russ Aszmann for his service as county forester.
With one day remaining in the month of June, the board approved designating June as Elder Abuse Awareness Month. They adopted the revised Taylor County Comprehensive Plan. And approved a change in compensation for board members who attend out of town meetings which will compensate the board members the same as county employees.