Mock Assessment Meeting 4/26/16

Today’s meeting of the Cuddy Drainage Board, was to determine the length (in years) of the assessment for the costs of replacing the Patterson Bridge and the dredging of the Cuddy Channel.  There was just one problem – the Drain Commissioners needed an idea of the assessment amount, in order to determine the length of the loan.  Since bids for the construction haven’t been sent out yet (they go out in May), the best solution was to do a “Mock Assessment” using the figures provided by Dan Fredricks, project engineer.  Please keep in mind these are NOT the final numbers – simply an educated guesstimate.

For the channel dredging – not everyone will pay the same rate.  Group #1 would be the people who own waterfront property on the Cuddy Channel and who will benefit the most from the dredging.  Group #2 would be those with access to Island Dr – they would pay 1/2 what the first group pays.  Group #3 would be anyone else who’s in the drainage district, but not with water access – they would pay 1/4 what the first group pays.

The first proposal was a 10-year assessment: Group #1 would pay approx $625.00 per year for 10 years (Group #2 would pay $300-ish, and Group #3 would pay $150.00).  The Drain Commissioners have to balance the “whack” of the assessment vs. the interest paid over the years, so even though they have the ability to spread the assessment over 20 years if need be, they opted for a 15 year financing plan, which would have Group #1 paying about $420.00 per year (Group #2 about $200.00, and Group #3 about $100).  Now, that being said: each property owner would be able to pay off their assessment ahead of time.  If they chose to pay the full assessment within a week or so of it being issued – they will not pay any interest.  If they pay it off in 5 years instead of 15,  it will save them interest, just like a house mortgage.  Just remember that the Drain Commissioners (Allegan and Barry) can only do ONE borrowing – and they opted for a 15 year contract.  You can’t go to them and ask for a 10-yr, for example.  And I should add a special “thank you!” to Allegan Drain Commissioner Denise Medemar, who voted for the 15 year financing to lessen the blow to Barry residents, even though her own county’s residents (who don’t have to pay for the full dredging – only a short bit) are being assessed on a smaller amount that could have been handled with a 10-year financing.


I need to clarify how the bridge replacement cost is being divided, because I had it wrong in previous posts.  The Allegan Road Commission has agreed to pay for 1/2 of the cost** (yay!).  The other half of the bridge cost is being divided between Allegan and Barry counties.  Taking a look at Barry’s quarter-share: Yankee Springs Township will contribute some money; I think the County will contribute a bit; then the balance will be assessed against the property owners within the Cuddy Drainage District.  So while it’s still not fair that the Drain District folks have to pay for a bridge on a busy road like Patterson – the portion they’re buying isn’t as big as I originally thought.  Thank goodness.

** One of the attendees at today’s meeting was Frank Fiala, Chairman of the Barry Road Commissioners (and a super-nice guy!), so I asked him the million-dollar question: “If the Allegan Road Commission picked up half the bridge cost, why can’t Barry pick up the other half?”  Well….  the explanation goes something like this:

When 2 counties share a road, rather than each county plow or repair only half of the road, they draw lines, and each county handles a whole section of that road.  The section of Patterson that crosses the Cuddy Drain, is the responsibility of the Allegan Road Commission.  However, as the costs of the whole project were being divvied up, it was proposed that the bridge replacement cost be shared 50/50; and the Allegan Road Commission said “Sure!  We’d be glad to pay for half!”   So Frank said that technically, the Barry Road Commission shouldn’t have to pay for ANY of the bridge.  But then there’s the issue of money.  It seems that Allegan County residents adopted a county-wide Road Millage, after many of their roads were damaged by the floods of 2013.  They’ve got some working capital.  Barry County does NOT have a road millage – most of their local operating costs are covered by individual townships.  Yankee Springs Township will pay a share of the bridge cost, but I doubt they could pick up half the tab.

Lastly – there’s still the “rule”, that a bridge over a Drain, is under the jurisdiction of the Drain Commissioner (unless it’s a State or Federal highway) – and the way they pay their bills is to assess those in the drainage  district tied to the bridge.  Granted, one might make a case that the “Cuddy Drain” is actually a nameless little spring-fed creek that has existed long before there were Drain Commissioners (I’ve seen it on a county map from 1873).  So even if it was still a “creek” – the channel would still need dredging, and we’d be dealing with the MiDEQ.  Trust me on this – it’s much easier to deal with the Drain Commissioners.  They’ve listened to our complaints and tried to incorporate our wishes into this project.  Paying for a portion of a bridge?  Easy-peasy.



Notes From Monday’s Meeting 4/18/16

Here are some random notes from today’s Cuddy Intercounty Drain meeting:

The housing development to the SE of McDonald’s (Pleasant Valley Estates) has been added to the Drainage District – however, they will not be assessed at the same rate of participation, as those who own waterfront property, for the purposes of dredging.  They DO get to share in the expense of buying a new Patterson Bridge.  At the moment, it looks like the Barry residents within the Drain District will be picking up 25% of Barry’s County’s half of the bridge replacement; or about $40,000.00 (+/-) [The bid requests still need to go out, so the price tag might change]

All the DEQ Permits need for the project have been secured.

Time frame:  the proposed Bridge replacement and Channel dredging will run concurrently – it is hoped/planned that those activities start shortly after Labor Day Weekend this year.  The “Substantial Completion Date” for the Bridge replacement, is 11/25/16.  The Final Completion Date is next Spring, so that grass can be planted, etc.  It is expected that Patterson will be closed approximately 4 weeks.  Detour signs will take residents westward to 6th St if you wish to remain on paved roads; otherwise, learn where 1st St is – that will be the “quick” detour.

PEOPLE LIVING ALONG THE CUDDY AND ISLAND DR CHANNELS NEED TO GET THEIR DOCKS AND BOAT LIFTS OUT OF THE WATER BY THE END OF LABOR DAY WEEKEND!!!  You are going to be assessed to fully clean out the channel – if your dock and  lifts create an obstacle, or barrier, you still pay the same.  Move your stuff – get your money’s worth!  Yes, this will be a pain in the backside.  Plan how you will deal with this now – don’t wait until the dredger is in the channel.

The cost:  This is sort of a chicken/egg situation.  Bids have not been received yet, so costs are being speculated, and we’re trusting Dan Fredricks, project engineer, to do a good job.  The numbers he has used have a 10% contingency built into them, which is always good.  Our Drain Commissioners need to know an approximate cost of the project parts, so they can seek long-term financing and spread the cost of each property’s assessments over a span of probably 10 to 20 years.  Of course, the property owners are anxious to know their yearly assessments.  It was finally proposed that a “Mock Assessment” be done: the Drain Commissioners will use the projected costs, and come up with a rough estimate of what it will cost each property owner each year, and over how long a time span.  The Mock Assessment results are to be shared at a public Drain Board meeting Tuesday April 26th at 10 AM at Yankee Springs Township Hall.  There were about 20 extra folks in attendance at today’s meeting – my worst fear is that a lot of property owners aren’t paying attention and will be stunned by the cost of dredging when we finally know the true price.  Of course, the value of having a waterfront property will be enhanced by actually being able to navigate that water…….. so talk to your neighbors.  Make sure they are aware of the dock removal and dredging assessments.

We’ll try to be more communicative.  Pat Gillespie, (Bless her heart!) who owns a cottage on Valley Dr, has volunteered to help get the word out, and keep folks informed.  We’ll try to post flyers at some of the more popular locations, etc.  My fellow Gun Lake Protective Ass’n Board member Greg Purcell will post info on the website.  Eventually, there will be electronic billboards forewarning the closure of Patterson, since that will affect a LOT of people and businesses around the lake.  And while I’m on that subject: I feel it is GROSSLY unfair that the residents of Valley Dr, Park Dr, Island Dr, and a few on Patterson Rd – have to pay for ANY part of a  bridge that serves hundreds (thousands?) of cars.  The Allegan Road Commission graciously stepped up and offered to pay for the Allegan half of the bridge replacement costs.

It sure would be wonderful if the Barry Road Commission did the same?

The Siren is here!!!

Here’s a beautiful sight (photo courtesy of Gun Lake resident Jack Pearson) – the brand new Weather Siren located at the Yankee Springs State Park Picnic Area (the geographical center of the lake).
Its purchase was a partnership project between the Gun Lake Protective Association, Tribal Chairman D. K. Sprague and the Gun Lake Tribe; and Yankee Springs, Orangeville, Martin, and Wayland Townships! The MiDNR and Yankee Springs State Park provided the land, permitting process, and electric; and it is activated by the Orangeville Township Fire Department. The GLPA will cover the yearly maintenance. It’s a beautiful testimony to cooperation between governments and organizations, to keep us safe.
It will be tested on the first Saturday of each month, and will be activated for tornadoes, (or possibly for extreme straight-line winds). The normal distance one can hear one of these sirens is a mile radius; but because it faces open water, the sound might carry quite a bit farther. I had roughly calculated that on a hot summer weekend, there could be as many as 8,000 people within the radius of this siren!
(A confession: I’ve been whining about needing a siren for a loooong time, but while I was in Florida being a Snowbird, my fellow Gun Lake Protective Ass’n Board members, led by president Rob Heethuis, made this all come together!  I feel so lucky to be a part of the GLPA – they truly have the best interests of the residents and the lake itself, at heart!)