Archive for Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lake draining riles neighbors

Homeowners: Land values at risk

Dick Stuntz, president of Alvamar Inc., walks along a dock that should be floating in Lake Alvamar, formerly called Yankee Tank Lake, on March 18, 2009. The lake was drained two years ago and was not refilled, although recent rains have left about a foot of standing water. Property owners in the area, including Stuntz, are unhappy with the dry lake bed now in their neighborhood.

Dick Stuntz, president of Alvamar Inc., walks along a dock that should be floating in Lake Alvamar, formerly called Yankee Tank Lake, on March 18, 2009. The lake was drained two years ago and was not refilled, although recent rains have left about a foot of standing water. Property owners in the area, including Stuntz, are unhappy with the dry lake bed now in their neighborhood.

March 19, 2009

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Residents seek to refill lake

A group of homeowners near Lake Alvamar met Wednesday night in an attempt to bring back their lake. Enlarge video

Several Lake Alvamar area property owners are banding together to save what they consider an aesthetic asset to southwestern Lawrence.

About 20 people met Wednesday night at the Alvamar Country Club to discuss how to get the lake refilled after it has intentionally been kept mostly dry for nearly two years.

“We used to have a very nice amenity as a fishing lake and aesthetics. Now we have mud flats and weeds growing in it,” said Dick Stuntz, president of Alvamar Inc., who lives in the lake area.

Stuntz also is a representative of a regional watershed board of directors that voted not to allow the 50-acre lake to refill with water after it was drained in 2007 for drainage plug repairs. The drainage plug was repaired but kept open. Stuntz was the only one of the 21-member board who disagreed with that decision.

The board oversees Wakarusa Watershed Joint District 35, which has watersheds in four counties, including Douglas County. The district is responsible for maintaining the lake’s dam and flood control.

The dam, built in 1973, is nearly two feet short of state requirements for serving an area considered to be under a “high hazard” flood control classification. The classification is based on the damage that could be caused to an increasingly developed area and the major streets and highways if the dam were to collapse or be breached. Clinton Parkway and the Kansas Highway 10 bypass are close to the lake. Sports facilities also are nearby.

The state determined that the dam could be “grandfathered” under the earlier high-hazard requirements, but the watershed board ultimately decided to dry up the lake to enhance flood control. The watershed district also doesn’t have the estimated $500,000 it would cost to bring the dam up to current standards.

Drying out the lake, however, not only hurts neighborhood aesthetics but also area property values, landowners and residents say. Values are already going down, landowner Mike Germann said.

Large, luxurious houses line the hilltops around much of the lake, and the lake’s scenic value was part of the attraction to owners. Now some properties are becoming harder to sell once potential buyers see what has happened to the lake, Stuntz said.

Germann urged owners to protest their property assessments with the county and to let city and county officials know how much they stand to lose in tax value. The loss in value to properties nearest the lake could have a ripple effect on neighboring properties, he said. He estimated about 200 properties could be affected.

“I think the city and county need to know how important this is,” Germann said.

Residents will meet with the watershed board at 7 p.m. Tuesday at its office in Overbrook. Germann and Stuntz said they were told city and county representatives also will be there, along with some state water officials.

Efforts will be made to see whether money from the federal stimulus and other funds are available for repairing the dam, Stuntz said.

“There ought to be some way we can all work together to get something worked out,” Germann said.

About a foot of water now stands in the lake because of heavy rains in recent weeks, but it will eventually drain, Stuntz said.

Comments

Keith 6 years, 3 months ago

Maybe, just maybe, the owners of these luxury homes could band together and raise the $500,000 needed to improve the dam instead of looking for government help for their private lake.

Michael Capra 6 years, 3 months ago

larry northrop /realty executives maybe he can help them and screw them at the same time as he did me to the tune of 20.000

repaste 6 years, 3 months ago

Keith is right on, values everywhere are dropping, million dollar homes are harder to sell everywhere. Private funds or room for more houses. Nice sob story Mr stunzt!

Chris Ogle 6 years, 3 months ago

Man, those folks need some tree huggers. Just look at the Wetlands, and the bridge to no where. Save the tree frogs!!!

geekin_topekan 6 years, 3 months ago

"Save the tree frogs!!" +++ I believe its salamanders.

mtnfreak 6 years, 3 months ago

"The dam, built in 1973, is nearly two feet short of state requirements for serving an area considered to be under a “high hazard” flood control classification."

"Drying out the lake, however, not only hurts neighborhood aesthetics but also area property values"

Aw, I'm so sorry your property value is hurt in the name of other's safety. Let's not lose sight of what is really important.

John Hamm 6 years, 3 months ago

Wah, Wah, Wah. So your property values are hurt (NOT! It's a bad time for all) by the drying up of a lake you enjoyed - but put no money into maintenance. I'm sorry but I think you need another shoulder upon which to cry.

LivedinLawrence4Life 6 years, 3 months ago

Hello Mike Capra with Vito's Plumbing (458 Casul). Is this really the forum to air your feelings about another situation? What does your comment have to do with this article?

Chris Ogle 6 years, 3 months ago

geekin_topekan (Anonymous) says…

“Save the tree frogs!!” +++ I believe its salamanders.


Please yield to salamanders crossing the road,(the old road)

OldEnuf2BYurDad 6 years, 3 months ago

"Maybe, just maybe, the owners of these luxury homes could band together and raise the $500,000 needed to improve the dam"

You know, that's the "cost" of high-end ownership. Whether it's a home on a lake or an Italian sports car, you need to be prepared to spend, spend, spend to maintain what you have.

Once again we see "stimulus money" being considered for non-economic purposes. AIG isn't the only part of this plan (free of oversight) that will come back to bite the current administration. If Obama doesn't get this money under control and with some accountability, he'll be a one-term president. "Stimulus" money to refill some rich guy's pond?

gr 6 years, 3 months ago

"Efforts will be made to see whether money from the federal stimulus and other funds are available for repairing the dam, Stuntz said."

If they get any money it should be taxed at 90%! This is outrageous.

elfth 6 years, 3 months ago

Let's see, 200 x 2500 .00 {probably less than a months payment] = rising home values, fresh fish, boating, and the warm fuzzies for helping others with flood control. Problem solved.

jumpin_catfish 6 years, 3 months ago

Hope and change is everywhere! New Obama slogan: No rich person left behind. The money from nowhere continues to flow and flow and flow. All is well with my soul, Obama is helping the economy one rich person at a time.

justthefacts 6 years, 3 months ago

Anyone, rich or poor, who wants to control what is done with real estate needs to own that real estate. That is the only way to insure that what is done on/to/with the property meets with your approval. (And even that has its limits - i.e. the government can (1) take ownership by use of emminent domain powers and/or (2) impose land use restrictions of some type, for "the good of the general public.").

You want a big house with a view of a lake? Buy the lake. And pray the government will not take it away from you some day.

flux 6 years, 3 months ago

Federal stimulas money!?! Its a pond for god sakes

imastinker 6 years, 3 months ago

I agree - that is a private lake (isn't it?) and they owners need to pay for it. If there are 200 owners affected, 500k really isn't too bad to have lakefront property.

I'd pay a few grand to have lakefront property!

webmocker 6 years, 3 months ago

What "Elfth" said, though perhaps with an adjustment whereby the houses with the view of the lake pay more. I am betting the complaining homeowner's 200 houses estimate includes many that gain no direct benefit from the lake, but only a neighborhood value ripple effect. In any case, 1% of the value of the house is not much to ask to maintain the value of the house.

Sharon Aikins 6 years, 3 months ago

Unless I missed it, I couldn't tell if it was a private or publicly owned lake. If it's privately owned, then the question is moot. Let the owner(s) pay. If public and available for anyone to use, then it depends on the benefits versus the cost of repairs. And of course, located where it is, it wakens up the old us versus us beast in Lawrence.

Clickker 6 years, 3 months ago

Funny how many of the same people laughing at draining this pond, are outwardly outraged at the thought of draining a single gallon out of the so called wetlands south of Haskell.

A_J_Hawk 6 years, 3 months ago

Is that Dick Stuntz' real name or is it his stage name?

sourpuss 6 years, 3 months ago

I think the problem with the stimulus is the "rich" have the means in place to grab the money. They have the education, the lawyers, and the business contacts, so they run around and try to get money for their scenic lakes, boohooing about home values. It isn't an administration thing. These people have money because they run around and try to get money all of the time, so don't expect the scorpion to act differently now. It is up to the rest of us to stop them.

I agree, if taxes are used to fix this lake, then we all get to enjoy it. I suggest loud rock music, neon clothes, and a 24 of Bud. Million dollar homes... get bent.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

"Funny how many of the same people laughing at draining this pond, are outwardly outraged at the thought of draining a single gallon out of the so called wetlands south of Haskell."

I'm sure that it'd be "convenient" to your desires if the two situations were actually comparable, but they aren't. Not even remotely.

Bud Stagg 6 years, 3 months ago

Look at it from the other side folks. those people pourchased those lots because of that feature. They paid developement fees, High property taxes and payments for years on an investment in that property only to see that value changed by the actions of government. If the city, county or State decided to build something or changed something in your backyard that caused you to lose your investment, you would be PISSED!

BigAl 6 years, 3 months ago

A_J_Hawk (Anonymous) says…

Is that Dick Stuntz' real name or is it his stage name?


We have a winner...!!

JohnBrown 6 years, 3 months ago

Elfth hit a home run. The neighbors could band together, form a benefit district, and raise the half million (borrow now, pay back in 10-20 years) to upgrade the dam. If only 100 homes participate, that's an average of $5,000/home paid out over 10 or 20 years. Not a big deal, compared to the property value savings. The next issue would be to get the watershed district to agree. This assumes the "half million" estimate is accurate, of course. Netter check that assumption by getting a bid first.

Keith 6 years, 3 months ago

Two hard and fast rules of Real Estate. Don't buy near vacant land, the zoning WILL change, and don't buy near a water feature unless you own it. In addition to the 10th and Monterrey pond, there was another one north of 6th street on Monterrey that suffered the same fate.

Clickker 6 years, 3 months ago

“Funny how many of the same people laughing at draining this pond, are outwardly outraged at the thought of draining a single gallon out of the so called wetlands south of Haskell.”

I'm sure that it'd be “convenient” to your desires if the two situations were actually comparable, but they aren't. Not even remotely.

True. Draining a little water south of Haskell (and replacing it elsewhere) to put a road through it would benefit thousands, and keeping this as a viable watershed would only benefit a few hundred. Thank you for pointing this out.

Bursting 6 years, 3 months ago

I love the 10th and Monterrey Beavers!!!

KansasVoter 6 years, 3 months ago

If Dick Stuntz wants water in his lake, then he and his neighbors can pay for it themselves.

Clickker 6 years, 3 months ago

The wetlands also provide flood protection relief. Moving it shows the mentality of the simpletons who only think about their driving convenience and miss the mark. Of course you'd think watching so much crumbling down around us now would be the first clue that maybe you should reconsider the priorities by why should we expect that?

I know--the crumbling is absolutely horrible. Especially on 23rd street. Way overused by cars that are travelling on this road rather than a bypass. And enviornmentally, how much fuel is being wasted idling on 23rd? I agree, we need to reconsider priorities.

alfie 6 years, 3 months ago

Dick Stuntz does not live within a mile of that lake, but Alvamar owns several residential lots which they want to sell at a huge price, now you know why they need our money to help them

hometowngirl 6 years, 3 months ago

The lake's name was changed to Lake Alvamar because it is owned by Alvamar. It is a private lake and as such, not eligible for stimulus or any other taxpayer funds, imo. If the effected homeowners really want to do something about it - they need to take it up with Alvamar, not the citizens of Douglas County.

spankyandcranky 6 years, 3 months ago

I wish them luck, but at the same time, I also feel that there are more pressing matters for the city to spend money on. Isn't there also a larger dam on the Kaw that is supposed to be close to failing as well? Wouldn't that cause much more flood damage than the one in the Alvamar area? The bigger dam should be a higher priority for consideration of funds in my opinion.

hujiko 6 years, 3 months ago

Awwww, poor rich people, always getting the raw end of the deal! I sure am glad that I don't live in a huge house with lots of cars and maids to clean up after myself. If only the state would just give them more money to fix their little aesthetically pleasing pond so that their already extraneously high property values would go up by a fraction of a percent. Im going to make a bumper sticker with "Save the Private Aesthetic Pond of Scenic West Lawrence" on it to raise awareness to their plight.

walleye9898 6 years, 3 months ago

Google Earth only show 1 maybe 2 docks. County GIS map doesn't show any houses along the lake that i would call lake front property. It actaully onlys hows 4 houses that are on property that touch the "lake front". It appears the area is platted for severe more "mansions on the hills". The hundreds mentioned in the story must be the current "Alvamar elitist" housing addition to the north of the lake. The average family incomes in that addition and of those that have access to it is probably a minimum of 3-4 times waht the average is for Lawrence.T

This is not a public access lake therefore no public funds should be used to fix it. Create a benefit district out Alvamar development and let them pay!

whatifeelfyi 6 years, 3 months ago

Noone bailed me out when the city decided to cut down the trees and fill in the creek behind my house years ago-in fact I am still paying for it. The city charged me $5,000.00 to take away what I never wanted taken away.

webmocker 6 years, 3 months ago

Toe, thank you for making me chuckle this morning.

lastcall4oh 6 years, 3 months ago

Anyone hear how the watershed district meeting went this week?

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