The East Troy Village Board discussed options for the restoration of the Honey Creek at the Oct. 15 Committee of the Whole meeting. The village engineer gave the board some ideas for the future of the former East Troy Lake area, including a walking path with lighting and a possible fishing pond.

Village Board looks at options for restoring the Honey Creek

By Tracy Ouellette

SLN STAFF

The East Troy Village Board is considering options for the future of the Honey Creek with the removal of the East Troy Dam.

After the regular Village Board on Oct. 15, the board adjourned to a Committee of the Whole meeting to hear a presentation on what might be done with the creek from the village engineer, Tim Lynch, of Lynch and Associates.

The area of the former East Troy Lake will have to be restored and improved and the board asked Lynch to bring back some preliminary ideas and a rough plan for what might be done.

Lynch said he gave thought to how the creek would look from Highway 120 when coming into the village and what might be the best use of the land. His plan, which is just in the conception stage, included a lighted walking path and a pond, which could be used for fishing.

Lynch said the plan kept the creek as close to the existing path as much as possible and thought some type of trail system along the path was something the village residents could enjoy.

While the engineering of the plan is not done, it gave the board and the residents at the meeting a good idea of what is possible in the restoration project.

The plan calls for storm sewer extensions from their existing outlets down to the creek bed, but until the engineering is complete, how those seven extensions will look is unknown. Lynch said ideally the storm sewers would run underground to the creek bed, but depending on the elevations, that might not be possible.

Lynch said the process of restoring the Honey Creek would be a two-stage process with the construction work done first to get the channel stabilized and then the cattail removal, which would take a few years along with the dewatering, along with adding the amenities like a walking path.

“You’ll have different areas of ripples and pools and I’d love there to be a small fishing pond,” Lynch said.

The cost for the pond would be about $150,000 to $160,000 and the cost for the walking path was projected to be about $105,000, Lynch said, adding that those costs came in within the $750,000 budget for the project, along with all the other proposed work like extending the storm sewers.

The board discussed the path and the pond at some length, with the board members very much in favor of the walking path and some questions about the pond.

The real issue with the board members was making sure that the project was fully committed to and the funds needed were allotted now and the future to make sure the restoration wasn’t abandoned a few years down the road if there was another sitting board.

Trustees John Jacoby and Alan Boyes both voiced the desire to set the plan in stone and provide appropriate funding.

“We need to do it now and have the plan so not only use, but the people in the audience, know what we are doing,” Boyes said.

Village Board President Scott Seager agreed and said the way they do that is to fund the project and budget for any future expenses and make sure the information about the money set aside for the full project was communicated to future boards, so they could continue if need be. The cattail removal and dewatering will take several years.

“It’s (cattail removal) going to be a multi-year project,” Lynch said. “It’s going to take some follow up. The DNR has stated they will be watching this process closely because they’re having this problem elsewhere.”

Questions from the homeowners

Several homeowners on the former East Troy Lake had specific questions as to what the restoration would entail and how it would affect their properties.

Legal questions were of paramount concern for some. Because each land title is different, the village attorney is going to have to research exactly who owns what property that is no longer the lakebed. To build the proposed park around the Honey Creek where the lake was, the village may have to obtain easements from the homeowners or create other agreements.

“Cooperation is needed because each property is different,” Jacoby said. “It’s an important thing we continue to work with each other and have a 5- to 10-year plan.”

Jacoby said he understood many of the residents on the former lake were upset they were losing the lake, and he was sorry for that, but stressed that if the village and the residents in the area worked together, they could create a park that would beautify the area and be available for all the residents to use.

Seager reassured the assembled homeowners that the village would follow all the legal steps necessary in the process.

“We will take every single, clear legal step that the laws expect us to do,” Seager said.

Property values lowering?

Some of the residents on the former East Troy Lake also expressed concerns about their property values being lower with the lake now gone.

Village Administrator Eileen Suhm said the property on the former lake could see a slight reduction, because depending on the size of the properties that had lake frontage values were assessed anywhere from 5 to 7 percent more for acreage on the water. In a Dec. 1, 2017, memo to the Village Board, which was in the following Monday’s meeting packet, Suhm explained that property on the lake with 1/4 acre of frontage was assesses at a 7.1 percent higher rate than a property across the street. However, the larger the property was, there was a smaller increase. One acre of frontage on a property was assessed at a 5 percent increase.

 
 

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