Lake dredging referendum price tag could be $1.75 million
The public works committee recommended the following wording for a November advisory referendum: “Shall the Evansville Common Council approve spending an amount not to exceed $1.75 million in order to restore Lake Leota?”
The city council will vote on the referendum at its meeting Tuesday, Sept. 9.
The cost of the project still is subject to change and is based on city negotiations to dump sediment dredged from the lake onto adjoining land. Officials will work with engineers at Vierbicher Associates in the coming days to nail down the cost.
Mason Braunschweig and Janis Ringhand, who are members of the public works committee and the council, both said Tuesday night they didn’t want the cost to be so high that it would scare people, but they didn’t want it too low that it wouldn’t cover the cost of the project.
“It has to be as accurate as possible,” Braunschweig said.
Gilbert Wiedenhoeft, a member of the Save Our Lake Environment group, questioned whether the dollar amount had to be exact because the referendum isn’t binding.
“It’s not binding, but boy it’s pretty telling,” Braunschweig responded.
“It’s our credibility for how we proposed the issue and carried through, kept our word,” Ringhand added.
Public debate has centered on a mix of numbers.
In February, Vierbicher presented a plan to dredge the lake for $1.7 million to $2.6 million, with the range depending on how far 200,000 cubic yards of lakebed material would have to be transported.
The price tag now is on the lower end because City Administrator Dan Wietecha reported Tuesday he is nearing agreement with nearby landowners to place the sediment on their property.
In July, the park board recommended the council move forward with dredging without a referendum at a cost of $1.7 million, depending upon the city’s ability to dump dirt on neighboring property owners’ land.
If the $1.75 million price tag for the referendum changes, it will be discussed at the city council meeting Sept. 9. Referendum wording for the ballot needs to be delivered to the Rock County Clerk’s Office by Tuesday, Sept. 23.
“The council’s pretty much our last chance to get (the dollar amount) right,” Braunschweig said.
Committee members discussed directing the city to place the project out for bids at its September meeting. If the proposed referendum is approved Nov. 4, the council could award a bid at its Nov. 11 meeting.