Cuddy Drain Meeting 5/9/2018

This should have been an uneventful Annual Meeting, but after the February “flood” that took out a large chunk of Cuddy channel-side just below the Debris Barrier (there also was erosion upstream just south of M-179), helping to build the ever-growing deposit of sediment in front of Mike Seagly’s house…. we had a lot of questions.

The good news: as we stood at Seagly’s house (corner of Patterson and Valley) after the meeting, we could see Pavlak Construction’s excavator with a large pile of riprap, ready to repair the washout. It seems that during the flood, water was racing down the hill north of the yellow house, crossing behind the house, and crashing into the Cuddy, creating an eddy which carved out the one spot without riprap 😦 That is fixed now. Mr Pavlak did this work under warranty, which is awesome!

Also – Pavlak again cleaned out the Sediment Basin. I think what we’re seeing is erosion of the “raw” reconstruction of the drain. Once grasses/plants become established, there will be less erosion. Brent Scholten the engineer from Allegan County, walked the entirety of the Cuddy Drain recently, so has a good grasp on what is happening. Our teeny little watershed is not being overlooked and I hope our Drain Commissioners know that we appreciate it!

But once again, the Cuddy has dropped its sediment on the east side of the Patterson Bridge. The current seems to do a counterclockwise gyre, so we have a horseshoe-shaped deposit of sand about 18″ below the surface at its highest point; and it’s out of the reach of an easy fix, like a Vacu-truck which was sent to remove at least some of the deposit earlier this spring. In the meeting, Mr Englerth suggested that if you live at the delta of a river, this is to be expected. (paraphrased).  I suggested that Mr Seagly be refunded his portion of the dredging assessment, since his navigation is being impeded. After the meeting several of us went to Seagly’s house to look at/measure the sand deposit; and different options for clearing it out were discussed, including using a bubbler to push the sediment away from Seagly’s frontage. I suspect that since Mr Seagly should be able to park his boat in front of his house at the moment, they might wait a year to deal with the sediment, in the hopes that as the stabilized channels stop erosion, one more dredging on the east side of the bridge should keep things clear for many years?


GLPA could use some help!

At the GLPA annual meeting last August, membership asked to include a line for “Legal Fees” donations on the yearly dues/information cards. Well, oops; the printer missed that addition. So if you are inclined (and I’m hoping so!) and would like to make a donation towards Legal Fees, just write in “legal” where the card says “other” and Ryan will make sure the money goes to the proper account.

If you’ve already made a donation – thank you ever so much!!!!!

Allegan to the Cuddy Rescue!

A big thank you! to Mike Seagly and Bob May who pointed out that the Cuddy went on a romp, (not exactly a surprise since so many rivers are at flood stage at the moment) blew out the south side of the 1st St-to-Patterson section, and dumped a bunch of sediment east of the Patterson Bridge.  Ugh.  I just received a quick email reply from Allegan Drain Commissioner Denise Medemar, that maintenance engineer Brent Scholten is meeting with a contractor on-site to survey the damage. I’m crossing my fingers that the blowout is just along that side.  I can only imagine how fast the water was tearing through there…..

I will add to this post as I learn more info.

Update on Zoning Meeting: Text Amendment Denied!

The Barry Planning Commission listened to the packed meeting room Monday night; and voted to deny Mr Spoor’s request for a Text Amendment. They will bring this recommendation before the Barry Co. Board of Commissioners at the next meeting. Generally, the Commissioners honor the advice of the Zoning Board, which means that marinas will continue to be banned in Mixed-Use Zoning (“grandfathered marinas” such as Mattesons, Circle Inn, etc are naturally exempted)

A quick show-of-hands showed the unanimous support of the crowd against the Text Amendment – thank you to everyone who braved the rain and foggy conditions to attend the meeting!!

We Need You: Zoning Meeting Monday Jan 22nd 7PM

This is a critical meeting, regarding the Landing At Gun Lake Marina. Mr Spoor is asking for a “Text Amendment” to the Barry County zoning regulations for Mixed-Use Zoning.

This is what I learned from our lawyer: “Mixed-Use” is exactly what it implies: a nice mixture of homes and low-impact businesses.  The regulations suggest possible business uses, and also specifically mentions things that are not allowed, including marinas*.  A Zoning Variance to change these regulations for a piece of property requires a Public Hearing before the Zoning Board of Appeals.  A Text Amendment asks for the wording of the regulation to be changed.  In Mr Spoor’s case, he’d like to have the word “marina” moved to the “possible business” side, so he can run his marina legally AND enlarge it.  Of course, changing the wording also means that everyone else along that side of the lake who is zoned Mixed-Use, can likewise apply for a marina permit.  Clearly, amending text in a zoning regulation is opening a can of worms…..

*Yes, Mattesons have a long-standing, active DEQ Marina Permit.  They have been on Gun Lake for generations – they are grandfathered-in.  Opposing the Text Amendment will not affect them in any way.

So back to the meeting: this a Zoning Meeting – and they know this is a hot-button topic.  They have moved their meeting to a larger facility than the Courthouse Mezzanine: the Commission On Aging building at 320 W Woodlawn Ave in Hastings.  It’s .8 miles north of the old Courthouse, at the corner of Broadway and W Woodlawn.  Here’s a map of its location just north of downtown Hastings:

The meeting starts at 7 PM; there will be a break at 8:30 PM.

Last week, Mr Spoor had asked the Orangeville Township Board to support his proposed Text Amendment to the Barry County Zoning Board.  I hear 100+ people showed up for that meeting; and the Township Board denied his request.  After the break, Mr Spoor spoke to the Twp Board and the remaining crowd, and rescinded his request.

If you would like our Township representatives to hear your voice, or you just want to see/hear what happens next – please set aside Monday Jan 22nd at 7 PM.  To those who have attended meetings in the past, or written letters to our elected officials, I offer you my sincerest THANK YOU!

Batman vs. Starry Stonewort

For the last 3 years, though a Michigan Grant program, a group of researchers from Central Michigan and Grand Valley Universities, the Nature Conservancy; and aided by the Gun Lake Improvement Board (GLIB) have been studying Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) in Gun Lake.  I know many of you saw the teams of scuba divers, or students in boats, who checked the test sites on a weekly basis.  Their report is finished, and I wish the results were more encouraging.

Today’s post is about Starry Stonewort (SSW) – that bright-green mat of algae-that-looks-like-a-plant.





It chokes out beneficial plants, and offers no habitat for fish or other aquatic critters.  You can’t fish through it; and when dense enough, it will stop motorboat traffic and foul jet-pump intakes.  It doesn’t have roots, and apparently is impervious to herbicides and algicides.  No matter what the Grant Program folks or GLIB did to SSW, it prevailed.  The best control method we have for the moment, is to simply mow it down with harvesters (which is VERY expensive to do) – and of course, like grass, it grows back again.

Meanwhile, some of us played Batman.  A few years ago, perplexed by the mat of SSW that prevented my grandkids from fishing from our dock (their favorite pastime), and being a former horse owner – I took a “tack hook”, tied a 25′ length of 1/4″ rope to it, and started lobbing it into the lake and dragging out gobs of SSW.

(A tack hook looks like a 15″ grappling hook, with no sharp points.  Weighs about a pound)

Well, my grandkids thought this looked very Batman-ish and fun.  So I bought more, to encourage their participation – they’re about $10 on

(They can also be found at most horse-products stores)

Before you knew it, our waterfront was clear, although we had heaps of SSW everywhere along the seawall.  Once it dried for a couple of days, it weighed nothing, so was put in our trash cart since it refused to burn (?).  My neighbors did the same thing – now the kids could swim/fish/play.  YAY!  (Disclaimer: the hook does NOT pull out rooted, beneficial lake weeds, which is actually a very good thing!)

But here’s where it gets interesting: since the “big haul” of SSW, very little has grown in front of our houses in the 2 or 3 years since we Batmanned it.  Last year, my neighbor hauled out a small pile that might have filled a 5-gallon bucket.  That’s all.  In light of the Grant Group’s report, playing Batman might be important?  I told Pam Tyning, our Aquatic Engineer from Progressive AE about our tiny success, and she wants to test a few more areas next summer!  I will challenge my grapple-throwing abilities in our Gun Ho Channel, where the SSW is truly a huge problem (and where another neighbor has had some  success with HIS tack hook!).  But I’m passing this along now, in case others want to join the fun (and help eliminate the scourge of our beautiful lake).  SSW seems to really like our lake’s channels, and these should be the easiest areas to grapple clean, so get a hook and rope, don your Black Cape – and let’s clear this “bad guy” from our lake!

PS: if you DO decide to clear your lakefront via tack hook, please let me know the results?

“Innovation and Excellence” : Cuddy Update

Left to right: Chad Mencarelli. Project Manager w/LRE;  Brent Scholten, Allegan Maintenance Engineer; Denise Medemar, Allegan Drain Commissioner; Dan Fredricks, VP and Project Designer/Manager w/LRE;  Jim Dull, Barry Drain Commissioner; and Deb Masselink, Rich Beukema, and Greg Purcell of the Friends of the Cuddy Drain  (*)


Thursday October 12th, several of us met once again at our beloved Cuddy Drain.  The entire project is being submitted to the Michigan Association of County Drain Commissioners – who will pick one project to win an “Innovation and Excellence Award”!!  Of course, we “Friends of the Cuddy Drain” feel it’s a shoo-in, but it would be nice if our Drain Commissioners were to win this accolade – a lot of time and effort went into it.  For the 3+ years of this project, Denise Medemar, Russ Yarger; and later Jim Dull; have consistently listened to and respected the voices of the residents.  Dan Fredricks designed a plan that finally solved the issues that had plagued Cuddy residents for decades, and his design turned a flood-prone, silt-laden, drain-filled-with-pathogens into the crystal-clear and safe body of water that we see today.  Chad Mencarelli was on-site during the construction, and Brent Scholten keeps everything running smoothly.  The Cuddy residents told the commissioners they were prepared to pay the (admittedly-steep) assessment as long as the “job was done right”.  And it was – all our original remediation goals were met.

All of the above still strikes me as amazing

*Absent from photo: Mark Englerth, Yankee Springs Supervisor who facilitated countless meetings between the Drain Commissioners and the residents, giving everyone a voice in the project.


I have to add a PS: on October 14th and overnight into the 15th, we received 6.75″ of rain, twice the amount that triggered the Great Cuddy Flood of 2013.  When I drove past the Cuddy on the 15th, it was happily burbling along.  No flood, no silt, no debris, no drama.