SYRACUSE — Syracuse Town Manager Henry DeJulia called a meeting Thursday night, May 3, with representatives from the Turkey Creek Township Advisory Board, Wawasee Property Owners Association, Syracuse Lake Association and Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation, to discuss repairs to the town’s flood control device, located in Crosson Mill Park.
The town has had control of the flood control device since 1992, but has not budgeted for its maintenance.
“We never had a budget for the structure, at least I can’t find one,” DeJulia said. When asked why he didn’t add a line to the budget for maintaining the flood control device, he stated “the council had other priorities.” He estimated the repair costs today would be around $400,000
DeJulia provided a quick overview of the structure of the dam. A study done in 2009 by Lawson Fisher, an engineering firm out of South Bend, showed some issues needed to be resolved, such as replacing the deteriorating sheet metal pilings. At the time of the study, Lawson Fisher provided two solutions to repairing the pilings, one costing $260,000 and the second costing around $170,000.
DeJulia said the town council’s priorities were elsewhere in 2009 and since, such as replacing the water plant, developing the technology park, road improvements, 756 lost jobs, trails and sidewalks, storm water improvements, decorative lights and the rehabilitation of the waste water treatment plant.
Tom McNicholas, a structural engineer with Lawson Fisher, said he believed the work could be done in approximately 10 months or done in phases. Engineering costs will be around $80,000. McNicholas did not recommend replacing the structure, since it would have to be to today’s code which would make the device much larger and cost millions.
John Ernst told DeJulia the flood control device is owned by the town and is an asset to the town. He asked if the town had any funds budgeted for the flood control device. DeJulia said no because at the time of the study the deterioration wasn’t that bad and the town had other priorities. Ernst express anger that no funds had been put aside.
DeJulia said funding the project would be an issue. He has already checked with Department of Natural Resources, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Kosciusko County office for Homeland Security, Congresswoman Jackie Walorski’s office and the Office of Community Affairs for help.
Bill Pipp, a Wawasee Property Association board member, said the town’s budget should be reviewed for the next 18 months to determine where funds are allocated and if they can be redirected to the flood control device.
DeJulia said the town can help but not pay the entire amount for the repairs. Clerk-Treasurer Paula Kehr-Wicker said she could find $260,000 for repairs in the budget, but other funding sources would need to be found for the remaining amount.
DeJulia suggested something similar to a ditch fee for Turkey Creek Township to provide funds for the flood control device since it benefits “lots of stakeholders,” but he wasn’t sure how to do that legislatively.
John Heckamann, Turkey Creek Township Advisory Board member, noted the township covers a large area, not just the lakes. If something like a ditch fee was implemented, he wanted to see some problem ditches tackled “so everything works right.”
Tim Keim, a Syracuse Lake Association board member, noted his assessment just went up. “Don’t tell me the state doesn’t benefit from these lakes … Do we reach out to the state? Is it important to the county? It needs to be fixed but we also need to reach out,” he said.
Representatives from both Turkey Creek Township and Syracuse Town Council said they would bring the issue to their respective boards and see if they could commit to seeing what the repairs would actually cost.