By Deb Patterson
William J. “Bill” Pipp, who has been one of a number of people instrumental in getting gears moving in the Syracuse Water Control Device repair and establishing the Turkey Creek Dam and Dike Conservancy was awarded the 2019 Wawasee Property Owners Association Chief Award. The award was presented Saturday, Aug. 17, during the annual WPOA dinner meeting.
The award is presented yearly to someone who has shown their devotion to the lake to make it what it is for all its residents and for the future, according to Kay Young, chairwoman of the association.
Pipp, who is a Syracuse native and graduate of Wawasee High School, went to Indiana University where he played varsity football and became a professional football player signing with the Dallas Cowboys National Football League and the Chicago Fire of the World Football League. The 12-pages of involvements and accomplishments were narrowed down to a few by Young.
“He is involved now, not only in the dam project, he takes care of the high school sailing class project,” said Young, noting Pipp’s additional involvement as a volunteer in the Syracuse-Wawasee Trail system, has been instrumental at the Wawasee Yacht Club and according to Young “a huge volunteer to make Wawasee what it is for all of us and what it is going to be in the future. Because of that, he is this year’s WPOA’s Chief.”
Pipp, who was surprised by the recognition, stated like all the rest of the chiefs, “It never happens without a lot of Indians, who would not have gotten the award without the people who helped us get there.”
Just prior to receiving the award, Pipp spoke briefly about some of the work a group of people have done over the past nine months. He stated, “The town only has 10% who live on the lake. Ninety percent of the people (who live on the lake) do not live in the town of Syracuse. So we have elected officials responsible for preserving the values of our homes, who actually don’t represent 90% of us. Yet they are responsible for that dam.
“We’re going to take over the dam from the town once it’s repaired,” he announced. He noted how the funding for the repair has been worked out, with funds from the town and township and “very gracious donations.”
Pipp said the dam will be repaired in the next six to seven months or “by Memorial Day next year. That’s the good news. Nobody pays for that … Once that’s done then we will start a conservancy district … to take over the dam area only.”
He explained the conservancy district will do two things only — provide flood control and drainage control for the lake. “We will make sure anything coming into the lake that’s bad for our property values we can spend money on. Anything that can cause flooding on our lake, we can spend money on … but we control the dam. It will be given to us free from the city and for the future we will be in charge of the dam. We will have a new dam, then start the district.”
While a new dam is expected to have a 50-year-life span, Pipp said over the next 50 years funds will be collected through a tax base, “but very little. We will have 50 years to put away money so when it needs repaired the next time, nobody has to worry. We’ll have the money sitting there and we’ll do the appropriate maintenance over the next 50 years, making sure the dam does well … and you will be in charge of your property value, not elected officials from the town of Syracuse, who don’t really represent most of us.”
He stated 370 signatures are needed to file the petition with the court, and the group is “well on its way to that number. “We’d like to get 500 so there is no doubt with the circuit court judge that we have a preponderance of people who think this is the right thing to do.” Once the signatures are gathered a petition will be filed in the courts. “The district will go into place in 2020 and we’ll start the taxing in 2020, with the monies coming in, in 2021. Over the next 50 years, we’ll have the money we need to make sure this lake stays the way it is for your children and children’s children.”
The annual meeting was held on the SS Lily Pad II, with the only other business for the night was announcing a new board member. Susan Stump was elected to the board, replacing Sharie Johnson whose term had expired.