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Archive for Monday, January 4, 1999

COMMISSIONER VOWS ACTION ON LAKE REPAIR

January 4, 1999

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A county commissioner wants to get the ball rolling on repairs to the spillway at Lone Star Lake.

A 1989 study about spillway woes at Lone Star Lake is on Douglas County Commissioner Dean Nieder's front burner.

Citing public-safety issues, Nieder said he wants to make sure headway is made this year on fixing the problem that caused the Kansas Division of Water Resources to order the county to devise a plan for repairing the spillway at the popular recreational area.

"In January I'm going to push Keith (Browning, the county's public works director) to visit with George Butler Associates and see how relevant the study is today," Nieder said.

The county hired George Butler Associates in 1989 to look into options for repairing the spillway, damaged by flooding over the years. The Lenexa firm provided the county with three alternative spillway conceptual designs for repair of the lake. But county commissioners did not fund the repairs, and the spillway has deteriorated further in the years since.

Dennis Haag, project manager for the study, was not available for comment, and Ed Johnston, the engineer who studied the spillway, no longer works for George Butler Associates, a secretary said.

The state last month told commissioners an inspection of the spillway "revealed that only one concrete retaining structure remained competent in the spillway of the dam. This remaining concrete structure is undermined due to spillway flows."

Chief engineer David L. Pope said that constituted a public-safety hazard, and he ordered the county to "immediately take corrective action that consists of a schedule for implementing such action preapproved by the chief engineer."

Commissioners reviewed the warning letter Dec. 7.

Browning, the public works director, said the first step would be to revisit the George Butler Associates study and determine if the plans outlined could be updated to solve the current problem.

The county said earlier this month that it might lower the lake an additional three feet and keep it below its winter pool until repairs could be made.

Browning told commissioners last month he needed to update the cost estimates George Butler engineers provided in the late '80s. The three designs were estimated at $880,000, $920,000 and $1.4 million, according to the study.

The public works director said last week that he had not yet had a chance to update those figures.

"It's high on my list, but I've been pretty busy," Browning said.

Nieder, who has attended several meetings with Lone Star area residents about the lake, said he wants to see action on the project.

"There's no reason in the world we can't get something going on it this year, 1999," Nieder said, adding the county might not be able to complete the repairs this year but at least should get the wheels on the project spinning.

The other members of the board also support making the repairs a priority. At the onset of discussions about the problem, Tom Taul, chairman of the county commission, asked what the county's obligations were for the lake. But Taul said recently he was not advocating closing the lake; he simply wanted to make sure the expenses were justified.

The county says most any solution will affect recreation at the lake this summer.

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is dgruver@ljworld.com.

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