County lake discussion turns contentious
A contingent of residents at the County Park and Lake showed up to have their say during Monday’s county commission meeting.
The sometimes angry exchange of words was touched off when commissioner Dianne Novak said she would not sign a letter to lake resident Garry Dunnegan telling him the commission had voted April 10 to leave an area adjacent to his property unmowed to help prevent blue-green algae bloom.
“I got the minutes from April 10, and we did not vote on that,” Novak said.
The commission discussed the lake that day, but the vote was to accept information provided by an expert, she said.
“I don’t think we should be sending out a letter to antagonize, and this would be just stirring the pot,” Novak said. “I think this is an inaccurate letter, I do not support the letter, and the information in there is incorrect. It’s actually false. It’s totally made up.”
Commissioner Randy Dallke said the point of the letter was to keep Dunnegan from mowing.
Commissioner Kent Becker said that when Dunnegan spoke to them earlier, they told him to come to the commission and ask permission before he does mowing on lake property.
“I don’t think we were out of line by doing that,” Becker said.
That’s when the 14 lake residents taking in the meeting began to speak their minds.
One woman asked for approval to mow the 13 feet alongside Dunnegan’s property all summer, with neighbors helping Dunnegan as well as ensuring he mows no further. Dunnegan’s mowing of that strip has been the cause of the contention between him and the commission.
“You’ve got all of the people here asking to do that,” the woman said. “If Garry doesn’t want to do that, we’ll do it.”
“There’s a lot more important things to take care of than grass,” another lake resident said. “You’ve got all of them trees out there and they’re going to kill someone. You’ve got a ski lake, you charge to put a boat down there, and if somebody hits a log, you’re liable.”
“Why did everybody move there? Was it for the natural look?” Dallke said.
“Oh come on,” Novak answered.
Commissioners returned to discussing lake residents mowing the 13 feet if they “police each other.”
“Somebody gets hurt. Somebody gets hurt, Susan, what happens then?” Dallke asked county counselor Susan Robson.
Robson said she assumed they could sign a waiver of liability to protect the county from being held liable if they were injured.
“It’s interesting that now you bring up liability,” Novak said.
She said trees over a picnic area are in bad condition and are a safety hazard.
“Maybe we just need a little waiver for everybody that works out there,” Becker said. “I guess we could have the county clerk come up with a very simple waiver of liability and just have everybody sign it.”
Lake superintendant Steve Hudson also got his share of criticism.
“Steve has been adamant that we not cut anything,” one lake resident said. “And during our lake cleanup, we didn’t see him out there.”
Some of the residents complained that Hudson is “not very friendly.”
“He’s the man that is supposed to keep it up the way you’re wanting to have it, and he’s not doing the job,” a lake resident said.
“Maybe there needs to be a small policy that tells what you want to do,” Becker said. “Is there a group out there that can come up with a one-page policy?”
Hudson entered the room and joined the conversation.
“I’m going to step into the middle of all this if you don’t mind,” Hudson said. “I don’t want to be rude or anything like that because you guys think I am rude.”
Hudson said often the questions lake residents ask should be asked of the commission instead of him.
“You know what? I bust my butt out there,” Hudson said. “And all I get is criticism from you guys? It’s just not fair. It’s just not fair, guys.”
Hudson said checking in bait at all hours and removing youth at the lake after hours and the like are working time.
“We’re doing it a little bit of a time, but we’re getting it done,” Hudson said.
Hudson said lake residents complain and lake visitors make positive comments.
Novak said she proposes the cleanup of the lake be extended through the fall.
Novak asked Hudson if he would meet over lunch to talk to her about the lake. Hudson hesitated and said it was his day off. She asked if he eats lunch, and Hudson answered that he had a lot to do.
Novak asked about talking over lunch Tuesday. Hudson hesitated again and shook his head. A laugh passed through the crowd, and Hudson agreed to meet.
Last modified May 10, 2017