Canal Dredging Proposal Gets Mixed Response
A public hearing has been rescheduled from late February to March 12 in New Baltimore.
A canal dredging proposal is smooth sailing for some New Baltimore residents, but hitting rocky waters among others.
The notion to dredge two canals, referred to as south and middle canals, in the Schmid Haven Subdivision behind the Dairy Queen on Main Street, has gained 70 percent approval in a subdivision petition, according to home owner Greg Thompson.
"We will all benefit," Thompson said of the waterfront homes. "We will all maintain property values."
Public hearing set for special assessment district
Under a possible special assessment district, the property owners would be given a certain amount of time to cover their portion of the fees for the project estimated to take place in spring 2013.
That amount could be up to $2,500 for a household, depending on how much waterfront property they own. Ideally, the costs could be spread out over several years, as to alleviate large payments, Thompson said.
The first of three public hearings on the special assessment district has been rescheduled from late February to March 12 at city offices. Several residents at a late January city council meeting expressed disapproval of dredging and some said petitioners have been misleading in attempts to gain support.
Petition to dredge has critics
Bal Clair street resident Brenda Beierlein said she signed the petition but without full knowledge of what it proposed. Now that she's aware of the entire dredging proposal, she's not in favor of it, she said at the January meeting.
Fellow home owner Tom Hepp, who sits on the city Parks and Recreation Commission, accused petitioners of adding the south canal to the petition when it's the middle canal that's more shallow and in need of dredging. Hepp and Thompson live off the south canal that has water levels nearly a foot higher.
With the petition, Hepp says Thompson "can create even more confusion so he can get even more dredging."
He said his canal was just dredged only four years ago. But Thompson says the last time the canals were fully dredged was in 1993, adding that sludge from the city's waste-water treatment plant and sediment make it difficult for boaters to get out of the man-made waterways. A separate petition pertaining to weeds is unrelated to the canal dredging.
"We have about three feet of accumulated sludge," he said.
Hepp says Thompson's interest in this issue stems from buying a 32-foot boat from him two years ago that Hepp warned him was too big for the canal.
Thompson says that is simply untrue.
"I have two engineering degrees. If that boat was too big, I wouldn't have got it," he said.
It's understandable why some people are resistant to the dredging proposal, but it's needed to maintain the canals and property values, Thompson said.
"We're not excited about spending hundreds of dollars but it's kind of like fixing your roof," he said. "We have people who signed the petition who don't even have boats."