Horseshoe Lake Public Inland Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District Annual Meeting
Meeting Date: September 20, 2022 at Beaver Town Hall
Call to order at 9:30 AM by President Steve Eichman with approximately 30 people in attendance and another 6 attending via Zoom. Steve introduced the other lake commissioners - Tom Ludy, Joe Waldo, Roxy King (Beaver township representative) and Tracy LaBlanc (Polk County representative). Glad to see several newer owners in attendance, as well as long-term members who have been very active in our association for many years.
We all have a mutual vested interest in maintaining the quality of the lake. The good news is that, even at this late date, the lake clarity is 15 feet and no late summer bloom has occurred yet this year. The best reading was 22 feet right after ice out and the lowest was eight feet a few weeks ago.
2021 minutes are posted on Hlake.org website and were approved. The current financial report was included in the meeting handouts that everyone was either emailed or mailed with the meeting information. The updated draft Five-Year Lake Management Plan required by the DNR, has been completed by Dave Blumer. All expenses are paid, and we are pulling together the information required for our 75% DNR cost-share on eligible expenses related to preparing the plan.
Our main four expense categories are the annual lake management activities Dave Blumer helps us out with, our liability insurance, treatment of milfoil hot-spots and member communications. For the second straight year - DNR did not allow for us to spray for milfoil (too small of area). This saved us money, but now we are seeing more milfoil present in the lake (lower water is also a contributor). We did not have a boat landing coordinator again in 2022, but really need to get back on track doing boat inspections 2023 (our first line of defense in keeping new invasive species out of the lake).
We currently have $8,884.91 in checking (before reimbursement from DNR) plus $12,700 in CDs for Emergence Invasive Species Control Fund (inherited from the Lake Association when Lake District was created). Treasurer report was approved via vote.
Dave Blumer gave an update on the management plan we have been working on for 2+ years. The Management Plan is our roadmap for managing aquatic plants and invasive species (Eurasian water milfoil, Hybrid water milfoil, Purple Loosestrife and Curly Leaf Pondweed) for the next five years. We sent out links to the proposed management plan via email for you to review and are asking for additional input today. We will submit final proposed plan to the DNR for review in the next couple weeks, make any adjustments they require, Then once they approve, it will be in effect through 2027. DNR asked us to simplify our plan and only include things we definitely want to accomplish. An example is Shoreland projects - if we include it in the plan, we would be required to do it. But even if we don't include it - property owners can still request grants.
In 2019, we successfully treated over 7 acres for milfoil and did not need to treat again in 2020. But in both 2021 and 2022, we requested permits to treat small, highly infested areas, but were denied because our current lake plan said we wouldn't treat unless we had six acres or more. In the new plan, we are requesting to be allowed to treat smaller areas, to keep them from spreading into large beds.
Dave handed out a two-page questionnaire on the goals of the lake management plan and asked those in attendance to input on the priorities as support materials for the plan (Joe will email out a copy as well).
Dave did his spring lake survey in June, where he found milfoil in several new places and mapped eight areas with a total of 3.76 acres of dense milfoil growth. This is part of why the new plan is so important. We can do manual removal and even DASH, but chemical management has shown to be most effective. Please be sure to remove individual milfoil plants or fragments you see in the lake - a plant pulled today may save a $1000 of spraying in two years.
After we review the results of this survey, we will resubmit the plan to the DNR for final review. As part of this, we need Lake District approval of the plan. Motion unanimously passed to approve the Draft Lake Management Plan, subject to approval of final language by the commissioners. Motion also made and passed to request a treatment grant for 2023.
Boat Landing Condition
The lake board continues to be in communications with the Town Board on cleaning up the boat landing. The damage to the trees at the boat landing from the tornado has increase the amount of running into the lake from large rains. With mainly stumps left (and no canopy to slow the rain), we are getting significant erosion of our gravel driveways, which is then running into the lake. The concrete ramps that were installed several years ago also have deteriorated and at least some will need to be replaced. The dock has been a nice addition to help getting boats in and out, but probably needs some refurbishing.
We have a couple of tentative bids on taking out the stumps, expanding the parking area and regrading it so that less of the water runs directly into the lake. But the question of who would pay for it remains. The boat landing is owned by Beaver Township, and while it is a public landing - it is very important to lake owners as well.
We recommend the township take responsibility to get the boat landing repairs done, but that the Lake District considers cost-sharing the cost. Motion was made for the Lake District to use up to $6000 cost-share to make boat landing repairs, including new pads, on a 50-50 basis with the township. Motion was amended to state the money would from money we saved by not spraying for milfoil in 2022. Motion and amendment were unanimously passed.
With the Lake Plan now complete, we get back to more normal annual expenses. For 2023, we will continue to have LEAPS help with lake monitoring and training plus our annual fall weed mapping. Our liability insurance is approximately $1,100 and we normally budget around $1,000 for mailings, PO Box, website hosting and other basic expenses. Mike Foster has been managing our website on a volunteer basis for many years.
One of our lake management plan requirements is to do a better job of boat landing monitoring. Jack Sullivan did this for many years, but we have struggled since he passed away. We can get a Clean Water/Clean Boats grant that will pay 75% of the cost of a Milfoil Coordinator, up to $4000. I have built in $1000 for our portion of that cost, assuming we can find a coordinator and get approved for a grant again.
Proposal is to keep tax assessment at $9300 (same as past couple years), even though our annual expenses are around $14,000. We would maintain our $12,700 Emergency Milfoil Fund in CDs, but start utilizing of our additional cash reserves. The current tax base of the Lake District is a little over $59MM, so the $9300 is around $16/$100,000 valuation. At some point in the future, we will probably need to increase tax revenue to cover all annual expenses (once we use up our excess cash reserves), but this would still be under $25/$100,000 valuation. Motion was passed to approve the 2023 budget as proposed and the $9,300 tax revenue levels.
Regarding milfoil expenses, we use a granular based treatment in the past, which has been generally effective but milfoil in some areas seem to come back every year (like going into Mud Lake). Dave Blumer recommends a new liquid product. It is more expensive but is less harmful to native plants plus has shown better multi-year control of hybrid Eurasian milfoil. As part of our new management plan, our recommendation is to submit for a treatment grant to help cover this additional cost. Will be some cost upfront to prepare grants, but this would save us significant money in 2023 (and 2024) if DNR approves. Motion made and passed to request a treatment grant from the DNR.
Sanitary System Update
Tom Ludy gave an update on the Village of Turtle Lake's sanitary system project. As discussed at the 2020 and 2021 meetings, the village is in the final planning process for future expansion of its sanitary system. If we would ever be interested in tying into that in the future, now is when we need to be having those discussions with them.
This concept was brought up 20+ years ago but was not pursued (as most properties were small cabins and small holding tanks were adequate). Now that many places are getting larger and the cost of pumping has gone up dramatically, the decision was made that the Lake District would investigate what sanitary options might be available and then pass that information on to Lake District residents for further discussion.
Tom finally got a response from the Village that they would have the capacity to put an additional 300-400 homes into the new system they are building. So this is now a viable option, but it would take a major expenditure to connect the lake to their system (which would not be part of the village project). The Lake District does not have any jurisdiction regarding sanitary issues, so a separate Sanitary District would need to be created to both manage and fund the process of putting in sewer lines to connect lake homes to the system. The Village would not be involved in this part at all. Once connected, they would just charge a fee for the sewerage being put into their system.
This would be a forced main system. It would start with putting in a major line to connect the lake to the nearest point of the village system. We would then need to trench mainlines into the road right-of-way. If you currently have a holding tank, you should simply need to have a grinder pump put into your tank and run a line to road (like what you would do to bring in national gas) to pump your sewage into to a mainline. If it is sewage only, we would only need to dig lines in 3-4 feet deep and there are enough year-around homes on the to keep sewage moving in winter.
Lake Magnor did a similar project with the Village of Clayton, so we have been able to get some information from them on their process. Once a system is up and going, there would still be work and cost involved in maintaining the system going. Everyone on it would have a pump, so if your pump stopped - someone would need to step in and fix it.
A Sanitary District would be created to include whoever wants to be connected. First step would be to decide whether to include the entire lake or just south side or certain road, etc. Obviously, the more people on the system, the less the average cost would be. To make this cost-effective, we would probably need at least 50% of the properties to connect to the system. Also similar to when we put in natural gas, if you hook up initially, most of costs are part of the overall budget. Bu if you add on later, a separate connection fee would need to be charged. There was also discussion on whether doing both sewer and water would make sense. The current work has all been focused on finding a reasonable cost solution to the sewer issue (which is our major concern at this time). The cost of including water would increase costs significantly (everything needs to be dug deeper), but it is an option we could look at, if people feel access to water is as critical to access to sewer.
Before anyone can decide if this makes sense, we will some estimates of what the project costs would be. First step would be getting an engineer to give us advice on what would be involved. The village's engineering company is interested in working with us (as long as village doesn't consider it a conflict of interest). At some point, we would also need to get a lawyer, with experience in city government issues, to work through the legal side of agreements and Sanitary District creation.
Our recommendation is to spend the money to have an engineering company develop our potential options and costs. Good news is we have some lake owners with some experience in similar projects to be on a committee to help evaluate the information, once it is available. Then we could send out this information with a survey to all lake owners to get their feedback on how, and if, to move forward.
A motion was made and approved to allow a committee, led by Tom Ludy, to spend up to $2000, out of our emergence reserve fund, to secure engineering information to get ballpark estimates on how much it might cost for sewer only vs sewer and water. Please reach out to Tom if you have experience and want to be part of committee.
We had more social activities when we were a lake association, but as a lake district - we have focused strictly on the business side. We used to have an annual picnic, cocktail parties, etc. Dave Cepak brought up the question about how we could better connect the 240 properties on the lake. We all know our neighbors, but probably not many other. Is there interest to try to do activities to meet new people on the lake? Currently no way to find out who plays golf, who wants to play cards, Bocce ball, etc. In the spring, Joe will send out an email to the owners to see if there is interest in social activities and if so - Dave and Pam Nelson would be willing to head up a social committee to organize activities.
Pam brought up the idea of "greased watermelon water football" tournament in July (all you need is 50 feet of beach and four people) and requested permission to sending an email to see who is interested. Motion made and passed to allow social ideas be shared.
Boat Landing Monitoring
We did get a Clean Boats/Clean Water grant approved again for 2021, but had limited volunteers to work at the boat landing to do inspections. Walt Goethel has done several days of volunteer monitoring this summer, as has Bruce Johnson, so we should not have to pay back all of our grant advance like we did last year. Boat landing monitoring and boat inspections are our first line of defense for keeping zebra mussels and other invasive species out of our lake. For next year - do we pay someone to help do monitoring and coordinating volunteers like we did in the past? Do we partner with a local 4-H club or Boy Scout troup to do inspections as a project? Pam Nelson volunteered to put together an ad hoc committee to come up with ideas and a plan for next year. This could include developing better training materials explaining what is involved in boat landing monitoring and a better process for recruiting volunteers to work at the landing.
Horseshoe Lake Directory
We have updates (including emails) from 160 of the 240 properties. We do not plan to print out copies but will instead email out a pdf copy to everyone who provided email and an update. For those not responding with updates, we will just include publicly available info (name/address).
Shoreline Owner's Manual
A new Polk County Shoreline Owner's Manual was created last fall, with do, don't and ideas for improving your lakeshore. A copy has been posted on the Hlake.org website
Steve Eichman's board term is expiring. Russ Patten has expressed interest in being on the board and was nominated. Russ deferred his nomination at this point but volunteered to be more involved and is willing to be considered for a board position in the future. Steve Eichman was elected to another three-year term as a Lake District commissioner.
Excessive Speed on South Horseshoe Drive
Tom has been to town board requesting more speed signs. He investigated the costs of solar radar signs that flashing your speed, but they are $2,700-$5,200/sign (so that is too expensive for them). We also asked Polk County to see if they would spend more time patrolling (especially in summer). Owners have put up the "slow down" signs on mailbox posts to at least bring awareness to those willing to drive the speed limit.
County Road T
The Lake District board did ask Polk County to request some property owners along Hwy T to clean up their property. They supposedly did have a conversation, but they are limited on what they can do. Tracy will bring it up again to the county, but unlikely to get much accomplished.
Boat Landing Monitoring
Pam also volunteered to take over the lead for this project. This involved finding and training volunteers to do education on invasive species for boats entering and exiting the lake, along with boat inspections. We will request a Clean Boats/Clean Water grant again for 2023 and reach out in the spring to recruit people interested in volunteering for this project, which is our critical first-line-of-defense in keeping new invasive species out of our lake.
Horseshoe Lake Directory
We are still working on updating this. We have updates (including emails) from 150 of the 240 properties, so not sure how many more we will get. I will send out a final update for review and then Mike Foster will do a final update of the map. We do not plan to print out copies but will instead email out a pdf copy to everyone who provided email and an update. For those not responding with updates, we will just include publicly available info (name/address).
Meeting adjourned at 11:50 am.
Respectfully submitted by Joe Waldo (Secretary/Treasurer)
Horseshoe Lake Public Inland Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District
P.O. Box 304, Turtle Lake, WI 54889
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