By Al Stanek
Whitewater Banner volunteer staff
The City of Whitewater’s project to combat unsightly vegetation growth on Cravath and Trippe Lakes will be accomplished almost entirely without the use of herbicides to knockdown the green areas that nearly encompass the remaining lake beds as the result of a two-year drawdown of the two bodies of water.
The announcement came from Parks and Recreation Director Eric Boettcher at the October 19 City Common Council meeting. The existing green areas will instead be mowed using six-foot wide commercial mowing blades drawn by an all-terrain vehicle, belt-driven traction vehicle and a commercial tractor. The work will be done by the same outside contractor that had been hired to spray the herbicide and is scheduled to begin the week of October 25. It will take place where the shoreline allows and may still require some minimal spraying according to Boettcher.
The use of herbicides had generated opposition from some city residents although the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) approved chemical treatment was deemed to be safe. The change in plans will not likely add additional costs to the project according to Boettcher who explained that the change in methodology was required by the unusually dry conditions in September and early October that resulted in vegetation going to seed earlier than normal.
The Cravath and Trippe Lakes Drawdown and Dredge Project began in July of 2019. It took two years and the use of siphons in Trippe Lake to accomplish the drawdown. A controlled burn of the remaining mowed vegetation is scheduled to take place in November. The actual dredging phase of the project is scheduled to begin in January of next year. Both lakes are scheduled to be refilled in spring.
The project is similar in nature to other Wisconsin communities’ lake improvement efforts designed to improve water quality and depth, reduce aquatic vegetation, and eliminate invasive aquatic plant species. Lakes project updates are routinely posted on the City of Whitewater’s website at www.whitewater-wi.gov.
In other business the Common Council scheduled a special meeting for October 26th to continue renegotiations with the Whitewater Fire Department regarding their contract for services with the City. The Common Council also reluctantly agreed to a settlement with Walmart related to an excessive property assessment claim. The agreement calls for the 2021 assessment to not exceed $5,300,000. The current assessment is $5,657,300 and the property owner’s opinion of value was $4,500,000. Reduction in total property tax (all jurisdictions) is $8092 with the city’s share $2347. City Attorney Wally McDonnell advised that trying to resolve the issue in court would cost much more in legal fees than the amount of tax revenue lost. This is the second time that Walmart has filed suit alleging excessive assessment.