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?


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.

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!

“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.

The Cuddy – Before and After

I put this together to show another group – I know it’s crude, but I’m not a Powerpoint sort of girl (heck – I did my chemistry calculations on a slide rule!). It was amazing to see the difference between “before” and “after”! Yes, some of the pictures are from the Great Flood of 2013, when we received 3.3″ of rain in a 2-day event; ironically, we received a similar amount this past June, and the newly-renovated Cuddy handled it like a champ!  How soon we forget what a raging, moody thing the Cuddy used to be….. or the scary amount of erosion that happened.

At 1st St, where there were elevation changes, rock “riffles” stopped the cutting-away of the stream floor; and rip-rap stabilized the banks.  The “perched” area where the banks eroded downstream of the 1st St bridge, used to extend all the way to the right side of the last photograph.

Now the Cuddy is just a happy, burbling stream with a nice gravel bottom – until it hits the deep Sedimentation Basin, where it slows down and lets any suspended sand, etc fall out.  The little dam at the end keeps the sediment in place; and the Cuddy turns back into its happy little self again downstream.


The amount of debris that washed down was staggering – the old barrier stopped a lot; but was hard to clean.  The new debris barrier is simple and easy; and accessible from its very own (private) road.


Timber Creek’s 2 drain crossings were a nightmare of perching, erosion, and worn-out culverts.  The whole area was so overgrown that you couldn’t even see the water – I had to find the culverts by listening for them.  Now the protective shade that e-coli loves, is missing in many places; and the overhanging trees and shrubs, while pretty, added a lot of unwanted nutrients to the water

And one last look at the headaches the Cuddy brought on a too-regular basis:

This has been an amazing journey, and none of it would have happened without the Cuddy Residents stepping up and saying “We’ve had enough”.  And our government officials, both elected and appointed, listened. Add an engineer (Dan Fredricks) who took the Friends of the Cuddy Drain’s goals and made it work.  And finally, under a truly massive Special Assessment…. (yeah, that was a bit painful) – it all came together.  A giant group hug!! to all of you!!

A Rant About Too Many Boats

The DEQ refuses to take into consideration, as it ponders the expansion of the new marina from 20 slips to 54; the study that was done showing that Gun Lake is operating at 167% capacity.  The dangers of a crowded lake were made all too obvious by the tragic boat crash that occurred Saturday afternoon.

This crash happened near the new Landing Marina and the gas station – emergency services were set up in the front yard of my friend who lives next door to the gas station.  I am keeping the victims in my prayers and encourage others to do the same.

That same friend had been out earlier on a 27′ tri-toon, and said they got swamped by waves created by all the boat traffic – she wonders if the two boaters couldn’t see each other?

Please, everyone – be extra careful out there…..