City of Menomonie given green light to seek bids for dredging - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

City of Menomonie given green light to seek bids for dredging

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Menomonie (WQOW) - The Menomonie City Council reverses course and sets its sights on a problem that has been lingering for years.

The council approved a motion to give the city the authority to seek bids to dredge the northeast side of Wolske Bay, near Lake Menomin.  Recently, the council rejected plans to seek bids.

During the summer, algae builds up in the lake, creating a smell so bad, some neighbors say it makes it hard to even breathe.  The city wants to dig up muck that has built up over the years.

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Menomonie (WQOW) - Plans to improve the smell of a local lake stall. Monday night the Menomonie City Council voted against putting out a bid to see how much it would cost to dredge a part of Wolske Bay, near Lake Menomin. The vote was 7 to 4.  It's a decision not everyone is on board with.

If you talk to neighbors living on Lake Menomin, it doesn't take long to learn how they feel about their water. Menomonie resident, Larry Stork, describes the blue-green algae as toxic.

Stork says he was disappointed to hear the city council voted against putting out a bid to find out how much it would cost to dredge a part of Wolske Bay.

Stork says, "Property values around the lake... I don't think you could sell a piece of property along the lake. You better do it in the winter, to somebody that isn't from here, because you're not going to sell anything in the summer."

The idea was to clear out 2 to 4 feet of muck that's built up over the years which could reduce algae growth.  Mayor Randy Knaack headed up the application process with the DNR.  

"Talk is cheap, I think. We can have committee meetings for another 20 years. I'd rather just get in there, move the muck, make a statement, and then go forward in a bigger way," says Knaack.  

Menomonie City Council Member, Hector Cruz, says, "The perception is that we're not doing anything and that's not correct. Our public works director has worked very hard to lower the phosphorous levels."

Knaack says he's concerned the vote came down to a political issue. He says, "I just think there is a bit of friction between myself and city council. And it's too bad that it holds us apart from doing good things for the community."

Cruz, who voted against doing the bid, says he wasn't comfortable using taxpayer money for something he wasn't sure would last. "What I was told is that there is no assurance that if we dredge just a small portion of this bay that anything will change so you can't take tax payer dollars and invest it that way," explains Cruz.  

Although opinions differ on how to improve the smell, Menomonie City Government can agree a change needs to happen. 

Cruz says, "Personally I made the decision not to eat any fish from the lake. I'm concerned about what kinds of problems could be caused."

"People come to Menomonie, the take a whiff of the air and they leave town. So we're missing out on tourism dollars, we're missing out on people enjoying our lake. Without being able to clean up our own backyard, how is it that I can go and promote cleaning up the backyards of others up river from this? So I think we lost last night in a big way," says Knaack.  

WQOW News 18 talked to several community members in Menomonie, all of them say something needs to be done to improve the smell on the lake.  Some are also concerned about their air quality from the excessive algae.

The city isn't sure of the exact cost of the project. If the council had chosen to put out a bid, they would have had a better idea. But it has set aside about $250,000 in its capital improvement plan for lake projects this year.

 

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