County offers deal on Chelsea dam

County will pay for repairs now if lake district forms to take over dam in future

“Get it fixed, get a plan done, and get a long term solution.”
Those were the three main goals for the Chelsea Lake dam laid out by county board member Mike Bub at the April 7 forestry and recreation committee meeting.
According to county clerk Bruce Strama, ownership of the dam has been a muddy issue for some time. While it was built by the Chelsea Conservation Club, there was action taken by the county board in the 1990s which shows an intent by the county to take over the dam as part of the purchase of the property where it is located and the area that has been developed as a county park. At the time, however, no documents were recorded showing the transfer of the dam and according to the Department of Natural Resources, the conservation club continues to own it and is responsible for the repairs to it.
The club doesn’t have the money to make the repairs and members say the intent of the action back in the 1990s was to have the county take over ownership and future maintenance. The DNR evaluation of the dam includes about $25,000 worth of identified work that needs to be done. The $25,000 amount includes replacing a decaying culvert for about $7,500 and about $15,000 to do a required analysis of properties downstream from the dam that would be impacted if the dam failed.
“The DNR has been real good with this so far,” said committee chairman Chuck Zenner, noting the state has given the locals time to sort through the issues surrounding who owns the dam and who is responsible for paying the bills.
“Someone in the county dropped the ball and it is back on us,” Strama said, noting the action was never done right in the first place. “I don’t think the intent was clear,” he said of the action taken by the board in the 1990s. Rather than bickering over something done a quarter century ago, Strama said the county needs to move forward and that any action taken by the county board should be in the form of a formal resolution.

See this week's issue of The Star News for the complete story.

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