EAST TAWAS – Talks of Tawas Lake’s Special Assessment District (SAD) ending this year showed the East Tawas City Council’s hesitation to continue with city facilitation in lake management.
On Oct. 4, at the city council meeting, City Manager Brent Barringer noted that the city was getting calls asking about the status of SAD and what they’re going to do moving forward.
Mayor Bruce Bolen noted that the water is property of the state, and not necessarily the property of the city. Additionally, involvement in the SAD has dwindled over the years, so there needs to be a change in the way the lake is managed, specifically a lake association.
“Don’t most communities that have lakefront property like that operate through associations?” said Bolen.
Barringer stated that a lake association has existed in the past, dissolved and he thinks one is operational again.
Regardless, it is up to the lake association and lake residents if they want to renew the SAD.
“We’re open to assisting in that facilitation and whatever we can do to help that communication. It’s just our general budget funds aren’t a directive to lead the way on that,” said Barringer.
Bolen cited conflicting desires of lake residents as another reason for the city to not get directly involved in Tawas Lake affairs. There are residents who desire an overgrown lake because it is great for duck hunting. Meanwhile others want the lake to stay weed free for recreational activities.
“It’s a no-win situation,” said Bolen.
Councilmember David Leslie concurred, stating the city would get in “a quagmire.”
Leslie also said that he noticed waning interest in the SAD over the years and that it has its uses, but has run its course.
Barringer said that city facilitation may have contributed to the waning interest, as lake association members left the tasks up to the city and became less involved over time. It seems more sustainable to have lake association members work directly with Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), he said.
Ultimately, weed cutting may have had a net negative impact on the lake since cutting out native species and wild rice left areas for Eurasion Milfoil to prosper.
Leslie said the wild rice population in Tawas Lake originally came from Houghton Lake and was planted there to provide habitat for ducks and push out invasive weeds.
“I don’t know if that generation of people are around anymore,” he said.
Councilmember Lisa Bolen expressed concerns over the DNR launch keeping lake accessibility if weeds aren’t cut, but the council says that shouldn’t be an issue.
Barringer said that studies by the SAD said cutting has had a net negative impact on suppressing invasive Eurasian Milfoil. In fact, studies by EGLE show the act of cutting helps with the spread and reproduction of the weed.
Blake Crane of APM mosquito control showed up to city council to give a summary of mosquito control during the year. He said they treated 25 of 57 inspected sites and 552 catch basins. They started fogging on Memorial Day week and ended Sept. 8. In total they sprayed 268 miles of roads.
Crane noted resident concerns that some areas weren’t thoroughly sprayed because the spray trucks were going “too fast.”
He stated that the vehicles have an internal mechanism that shuts off sprayers if the truck’s speed goes faster than 15 MPH or slower than 10 MPH.