SYRACUSE — The wheels of progress are now in motion to make sure current and future repairs to the Syracuse Water Control Device are done. Wawasee Property Owners Association Board of Directors approved the establishment of a Water Control Structure Fund Saturday morning, May 18, during its meeting.
“People noticed the structure has an issue, a major issue that needs dealt with and deciding to take responsibility as it’s the town’s livelihood and to make sure it gets taken care of,” said Steve Snyder, WPOA board member.
This fund was spearheaded by a $50,000 donation by Doug, Carolyn, Russell and Mary Anderson, which has been deposited into the newly formed account. Their donation calls for matching funds to be raised by concerned residents. Phone calls are already being made to begin the process of matching the donation.
“The fund is totally allocated for the repair of the dam, (water control device),” said Snyder, WPOA board member. “This will accomplish what the town doesn’t want to accomplish,” added Snyder.
He explained the fund will have tight controls and will only be used for that structure only. “No money will be paid out until there is a receipt of the work completed, detailed information of the work and certification by an engineer,” said Snyder, adding there must be supporting documents presented showing the work is related to the purpose of the fund.
Eventually it is hoped the Turkey Creek Dam and Dike Conservancy will take over raising funds for any needed repairs to the structure. The WPOA is in the process of establishing the conservancy that will ensure funds are available to continue long term maintenance of the two devices.
“It takes a while to establish the conservancy and we want to get the repairs done before significant issues occur around the dam,” said Snyder. He noted the county drainage board will take action to expend funds for repairs below the structure. “Between the two (WPOA and drainage board) we may be able to solve the problem before it gets worse.”
The conservancy will be a taxing unit that consists of freeholders around Syracuse and Wawasee lakes whose property fronts on the water — both lake and channel. “It takes a while,” explained Snyder, who noted signatures from 15 percent of the freeholders are needed before the request to establish the conservancy can be filed. There are an estimated 2,400 freeholders identified, meaning 300 signatures are needed. An amendment was proposed to have the 15 percent increased to 30 percent effective July 1. “We understand that was delayed to the end of the year instead of July,” Snyder stated.
Once established, the conservancy would maintain and repair the water control structure as well as reconstruct the dike, located on the west side of Harkless Road. That dike sprung a leak five to six years ago and was temporarily repaired. The dike is on property owned by one individual, who would not be expected to come up with the money to correct it.
Snyder explained the normal lake level is set at 858 feet. The area the dike is protecting, the Wawasee Village area from Pickwick Drive south to Palm Drive, is at 854 feet above sea level. “If the dike is breached, most of the village would be flooded. Ultimately once we get started engineering will need to be done on the best way to correct it.”
It was also noted by Snyder Ed Rock, county emergency management director, is assisting in coming up with additional funds through his sources to try to get the work done. Other agencies are being looked at as well.