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Lake Leota project reflects successes as well as problems

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GINA R. HEINE
November 2, 2009
— The dredging and refilling of Lake Leota was only the start for improving Lake Leota Park and its recreation options, officials said.
Landscaping design

The city is working with John Gishnock of Formecology on a landscaping design on the shoreline, thanks to grant money from the Antes Fund, a component of the Evansville Fund.


While nothing is firm yet, park board chair Janis Ringhand said the shoreline restoration and beautification likely will include habitat for wildlife, fish habitat and possible fishing ledges such as limestone paths.


The city is receiving $4,670 annually from the Antes Fund for improvement and beautification in Lake Leota Park. The park board just found out about the grant this summer and decided to spend about $2,000 on the landscaping design and $1,000 for a planted "showcase plot," Ringhand said. The planting likely will wait until spring.


"We knew we wanted to do the landscaping along the lakeshore and thought that was a very good place to start," she said.


Weather affects business

This summer's cool weather didn't help attract customers at the new boat rental business, resulting in the owner owing the city back rent, City Administrator Dan Wietecha said.


Robert Tierney of R&A Canoeing owes the city $225 in rent, Wietecha said, though the city has a $100 security deposit.


The Gazette could not reach Tierney for comment.


The city's contract with R&A Canoeing was only for the past summer, so officials are hopeful they can find someone—whether it's Tierney with a better plan or someone else—to provide recreation next year.


"I'm optimistic that something can happen there next year and in the future. I do know he had a tough time of it," Wietecha said.


Tierney presented his plan to the park board and city officials in spring. Officials at the time said it looked like a good business plan, and everyone was encouraged and enthusiastic about it.


"Any new business is hard to get off the ground, and the summer was not very weather friendly," Ringhand said.


Fish stocking

The start of Save Our Lake Environment's three-year fish stocking program is off to a good start, Ringhand said.


The early stocking of the minnows "appeared to be very lucrative," she joked.


They bred on schedule, producing a lot of food for the pan fish that arrived later in the summer, she said.


There appears to be a good supply of minnows to provide food for the fish over the winter.


More pan fish will be added in fall 2010 with bass and walleye coming in fall 2011.


SOLE is paying for and running the stocking effort.


Swimming

The city plans to place signs around the lake announcing no lifeguard is on duty in the lake or creek and that people swim at their own risk, Ringhand said.


"We're assured that we are not held liable if someone has an accident in the lake," she said.


The city is not encouraging swimming in the lake, but "you can't really stop it," she said.


Kids loved playing and fishing in the knee-deep creek, she observed.



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