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Committee organizes search for lake funding

Algae in Lake Mitchell.

Now that a general plan for the Lake Mitchell's future has been determined, the Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee is looking to follow through with it, beginning with solving funding issues.

Funding was the main topic of discussion at the committee's meeting Tuesday afternoon at the Mitchell Recreation Center.

"To me, it's important that we demonstrate to potential fund sources ... that we're probably going to follow through with this," Committee President Joe Kippes said.

The committee has until August to submit a proposed budget item regarding the lake to City Council, but members said they currently don't have enough information to make their case.

To solve that, the committee motioned unanimously to get more clarity from Fyra on what exactly the construction costs and proposed fees will be to undertake Step 2 of the current development strategy.

That step would include creating a retention pond, wetlands and an alum injection system, as well as identifying phosphorus hotspots in the lake. By Fyra's most recent estimate, Step 2 would cost more than $7.9 million in total, although up to 60 percent of that cost could potentially be covered by grants. Fyra is expected to provide an updated fee proposal on engineering cost estimates at the end of the month.

The committee member's discussion led them to the conclusion that they aren't entirely sure how they should go about getting grants or which grants would be best for this particular project. They motioned to create a sub-committee dedicated to finding the best practices for finding and applying for grant money.

One issue in particular about which committee members said they needed clarification was that of testing lakewater for phosphorus levels. Currently, the lake is tested in three locations once a week from mid-May through September, and each test costs between $40 and $60. The samples are sent to Nebraska to be tested, as there is no testing equipment closer. That means it takes several days to get the results of the tests.

It was agreed at the meeting that more frequent testing needs to be done to have enough data to get grant money, and some suggestions on how to do this included hiring an intern to perform the tests, purchasing testing equipment to eliminate the need to send the samples to Nebraska. Ultimately, it was decided that the proposed subcommittee would decide this, also.

"We need someone to tell us what it is what we need," Kippes said. "And (testing) has to be something we can use in the future if we have a grant writer who's applying for money."

The committee plans to hold its next meeting when it receives more information from Fyra. At that time, discussion on how to present the project to City Council will resume.

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