By Deb Patterson
Wawasee Property Owners Association works to protect the state’s largest natural lake for current and future generations. Because of that, it has taken the reigns to ensure Lake Wawasee remains at the legal lake level established in 1948.
The control structure/dam controls the water levels of both Syracuse and Wawasee lakes. It is in need of repairs, not only to the structure itself, but the banks upstream and downstream. A team of representatives from WPOA and Syracuse Lake Association collaborated with town officials about the structural issues needing remediated on the control structure. This group developed a plan to be carried out through the remainder of this year and into next year to make immediate repairs.
A Water Control Structure Fund was established May 18. It was spearheaded by a $50,000 donation by Doug, Carolyn, Russell and Mary Anderson. Funds are being received to match that donation through the designated account. “The fund is totally allocated for the repair of the dam, (water control device),” said Steve Snyder, WPOA board member. “This will accomplish what the town doesn’t want to accomplish.”
The fund is only the beginning. WPOA has gone one step further. In a recent communication with WPOA members, it was announced the proposal of the Turkey Creek Dam and Dike Conservancy, a proposed government unit.
The purpose of the conservancy is to ensure the proper repair and maintenance of the structure, as well as the dike located on the west side of Harkless Road, has adequate funding and governance. The dike sprung a leak five to six years ago and has been temporarily repaired. It is located on property owned by one individual, who would not be expected to come up with the money to correct it.
It is noted the normal lake level of Lake Wawasee 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. Should there be a breach in the dike, most of the village would be flooded.
The conservancy would solely address the issues of “flood prevention and control, as well as improve drainage.” All funds raised through the unit would only be used for that purpose. It would ensure funds are available for long-term maintenance of both structures and other flood/drainage related issues relevant to the conservancy district.
Those whose property touches the water, including channels, as well as Mud Lake located between the two lakes would fall under the taxing authority of the conservancy and be freeholders in the governmental unit. It is estimated there are 2,500 freeholders fronting the water. Signatures to establish the process for filing the conservancy are needed from 15 percent of those persons.
Once formed the conservancy would maintain and repair the water control structure, as well as reconstruct the dike. Kay Young, WPOA board president, noted once the conservancy is formed, money from the Water Control Structure Fund would be transferred to the conservancy.
Freeholders in the conservancy are being encouraged to support the effort and will have opportunities to provide supporting signatures at the WPOA/SLA breakfast, June 22; Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation’s The Event, June 28; WACF celebration and brunch, July 28; SLA annual breakfast, Aug. 3 and WPOA annual meeting, Aug. 10. Should freeholders not be able to attend any of those events, signatures are also being taken at Todd Realty, SR 13, Syracuse.
Representatives of these organizations, who have collaborated in creating the plans, are available to answer any questions. These persons include Bill Pipp, firstname.lastname@example.org; Jim Silcox, email@example.com; and Snyder, firstname.lastname@example.org, from the WPOA and David Johnston, email@example.com and John Earnest, firstname.lastname@example.org from the SLA.