Once again, Mark Englerth needed/wanted input from the Cuddy Channel residents, so he held a special meeting last night at the Yankee Springs Township Hall. Dan Fredricks, from Land & Resource Engineering gave a great presentation; Russ Yarger, Barry County Drain Commissioner was there to answer questions, plus a few other YS Township Board members were in attendance (greatly appreciated!). I didn’t do a head count – but we had to keep setting up more chairs – the turnout was great! And better yet, questions were asked and answered as clearly as possible, from both the audience and Project Managers’ sides. And while nobody is happy about paying for part of a bridge, and the cost of dredging the channel is quite frankly, staggering….. the comments were polite 🙂
The questions that needed Channel Resident input:
#1: Do the residents want the Cuddy Channel dredged after the bridge is replaced, even though the price tag is north of $250,000?
The answer, by a show of hands: a resounding, 100% YES. There were a few financing options discussed; and Russ felt the cost could be spread over a 10-year period. The audience members were good with that.
There was some discussion about poorly-done dredging that had taken place in the mid-80’s. Dan assured us that with today’s modern technology; the ability to map the bottom of the channel using bathymetrics and GPS; and the requirement that any dredger bidding on the project will be required to post a Performance Bond and be insured – that we will get what we pay for. The dredging will re-open the channel to its original 5′ depth with a 20′ width at the center, tapering up to the sides. Very tentatively, this could take place next summer or fall, after the Patterson Bridge replacement has been done. One thing that was pointed out: doing a good job of dredging (getting our money’s worth!) will require boat lifts and docks be removed. Yeah – sorry about that 😦 If you have a boat “inlet” that’s filling up – you might contact Mark Englerth for some suggestions on how to lower your sediment levels before the dredgers come through.
Since the answer to #1 was yes, that brought us to Question #2. Removing 8500 cubic yards of sediment from the Cuddy Channel, 500 cubic yards from re-opening the Sand Trap; and possibly adding another 4000 cubic yards from the Island Dr Channel means that we need somewhere to put a LOT of sand. Mark Englerth, Dan, and the Intercounty Drainage Board came up with 3 options. Each option was discussed, and the audience voted unanimously to go with Option C: an easement granted by Pam Van Denack, who owns property adjacent to the Sand Trap (where ongoing maintenance will be needed). The channel dredging spoils will need to be pumped farther upstream, so there was some extra cost in doing that – but overall, it was the least expensive option. Thank you, Mrs Van Denack!!
Question #3 went un-answered because there was only one residence represented in the audience: Do the residents who use the Island Drive Channel wish to have their channel dredged? There are some economies-of-scale for them to dredge at the same time as the Cuddy Channel, since the equipment would already be in place and they would get assistance in obtaining permits, etc. There would also be a small savings to the Cuddy residents, since the Island Drive group would bear some of the mobilization costs (getting to the site and setting up the system). Dan estimated a cost for dredging the Island Dr channel to be between $175k to $200k. IF they wish to join the project, they need to request that soon.
Keep in mind that just because 100% of the sizable audience voted yes to dredging and utilizing the Van Denack property – doesn’t mean it’s a “sure thing”. The Cuddy Intercounty Drainage Board can pretty much do what they want. The good news: the 3 principals of that Board, Russ Yarger, Barry Drain Commissioner; Denise Medemar, Allegan Drain Commissioner; and Brady Harrington, MI Dep’t of Ag – have all listened to our suggestions and adopted our proposed goals over the course of this project. I feel fairly certain that they will listen to our voices once again, at the CIDB meeting Friday morning at 10 am at the Yankee Springs Township Hall.