By Deb Patterson
“The clock has started ticking…” said Bill Pipp, followed by John Earnest stating, “I don’t know who is going to be the conductor or who is going to be the engineer, but the train is going to leave the station.”
What the two men are referring to is the Turkey Creek Dam and Dike Conservancy district’s plan. State officials provided a 60-day extension April 21 because of missing information. Consultants from Baker Tilly Municipal Advisors and Lawson-Fisher Associates engineers will now have until May 14 to complete the plan.
Pipp, who is president of the district board, suggested the May 14 deadline and other board members agreed. This will allow the board time to get the plan to their attorney, David Hollenbeck, Blachly, Tabor, Bozik & Hartman Law, Valparaiso, to review the plan and have it ready for adoption. A public meeting on the matter is set for 10 a.m. Friday, May 28. At this time the meeting is slated to be held at the Syracuse Community Center.
Once the plan is adopted, it will be sent to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for review, which will refer it to the Natural Resources Commission. The plan will not be fully operational until approved by the Kosciusko County Circuit Court.
“We will still have 30 days left to submit it to the county and state, right now. Quite frankly I don’t want to be doing this in the summer so it needs to be done… they need to put us at the top of their work list, not at the bottom,” said Pipp.According to Hollenbeck, the only missing element is a budget. Both Jeff Rowe, Baker Tilly, and Breagan Eicher, Lawson-Fisher, have the basic format of what the Department of Natural Resources requires in the plan. It was noted Rowe and Eicher needed to be put in the same room and work on filling in the blanks. Board members Dave Johnston and Earnest will be getting with the two and sharing the timeline set by the board. “We have to get this done. The sooner the better,” said Pipp, who noted he is not one to wait for the 60 days to draw near.
“David and I will take the lead and set up a meeting. It’s time they come to us,” Earnest said. The two consultants have been meeting with the board via Zoom for the past several months.
Signed agreements from the town on ownership of the flood control structure, management and easement were discussed. On the advice of Hollenbeck, the board will notify the town it will not sign such agreements until the district plan is approved by state officials. Additionally, an easement agreement with Dave and Sherry Elliott regarding the dike has been drafted and will be presented to them for review. These agreements will be included in the district plan showing the district’s intentions.
A brief discussion was held regarding surety bond and liability insurance. Earnest reported he has contacted two insurance companies for quotes. He has been notified by one company no insurance can be issued on the control structure until a current inspection report has been received. Earnest stated the structure has been inspected and they are awaiting the report. Referring to the 2017 inspection and noted deficiencies, Pipp and Earnest both said the deficiencies were addressed with the work completed last year. Contact with officials at the state level will be made to see when the report will be forthcoming.
Jim Silcox, a board member, presented quotes from BCS Management Inc. and Sumy Designs regarding the district’s website. Silcox noted Sumy Designs fell short in two areas: mailing list integration and experience in working with government entities. He proposed going with BCS which reduced its cost for website development and deployment of the site to $5,080 – a reduction of $850. They are estimating the monthly fee to maintain the site would not exceed $450.
Some discussion about that amount was held, with it being noted Silcox will sit down with them and develop a plan. It was pointed out very little will be added to the site each month once the district plan is in place and the board will only be meeting once a quarter. “We will totally dictate what goes up once a month,” Pipp said. Kay Young, Wawasee Property Owners Association board president, noted, in her experience, those companies who are less expensive tend to be less responsive to requests.
During other business, it was noted payments were made to Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation, Baker Tilly, Hollenbeck and Earnest – for the purchase of an American flag, through the remaining funds from the water control structure work. These funds, all donations, are being overseen by the WPOA until the district begins receiving tax dollars.
Al Tehan contacted Pipp to see if there was an interest in having the old gauge that was on the water control device building put back in place. Tehan was given the gauge to restore by a previous town manager. It has now been completed and capable of operating off solar power. Pipp will be talking with Tehan regarding the cost.
It was discussed the advantage of having the gauge reinstalled to help keep the water level maintained. However, nothing will take place until the district plan is approved and the conservancy is legally in charge of the structure.