June 20, 2021

Park board pursuing $2 million bond for McKinley Lake

For two decades, McKinley Lake has been in need of restoration, according to the Parks and Recreation board. Although the park’s total restoration project has been successful, over the years, the lake itself has not seen as much attention. Parks and recreation board chairman John Kawa explained what the lake needs in order to get back to its full potential.

“We’re going to dredge the lake out,” Kawa said. “And that amounts to however DNR tells us to do it, you can do it mechanically, which you siphon the stuff out, you pump the muck out, just pump it to someone and dry the lake out, or you can dry the lake out and haul it out after it’s dried out and dig it down to where it was.”

The need for restoration is long overdue, Kawa said.

“It’s been an impaired lake for 18 — 20 years,” he said. “It’s been silting in gradually for a long time, Green Valley’s been worked on several times, I don’t know how many, but McKinley’s never been worked on from the original depth.”

Despite the current condition of the lake, the rest of the park’s restoration project has been a considerable success.

“When we started that park, it was one foot in the grave, it was looking kind of tough, it didn’t have much, no restrooms, no walking trails,” he said. “When we started those restrooms were just terrible, they were glorified hothouses.”

Kawa said the scope of the project is determined to reach McKinley’s original capacity.

“We might go back to the original depth, which is not even close anymore,” he said. “You know, at the north end, you’re lucky if there’s two feet of water and south end’s a little better by the spillway, but it just needs to be dredged back to the original depth.”

McKinley Lake’s original depth was 10 — 12 feet deep at north end and around 20 inches at the south end. The board has not decided if the bond will appear on either September or November’s ballot, but if it passes, Kawa expects the lake to make a full return.

“It will hold fish there again, it will have a beach there again, people can go swimming again, the shore will be all rocked, except for where the beach is, the rest of it will be nice white rock, kind of what Green Valley does,” Kawa said.

While the bond issue is $2 million, the cost of the project is twice as much, although only half is being sought from the public.

“The whole project is $4 million and the city of Creston, what we’re trying to do, is going to pay half of it and I believe we can get other sources to pay for $2 million,” Kawa said.

Kawa said the last bond issue failed two years ago because there were too many projects looking for public funds.

“The bond lost to itself, basically,” he said. “There were three entities on there, the pond, the library and the lake and I think it was about the same money, every one of them, so the bond issue was asking the people of Creston to put up six million, basically, and that’s too much at one time.”

Since lake restoration would be their only issue on the ballot in the fall, Kawa is optimistic about it’s chances.

“I think if we promote this right, I think we’ll get it, it’s the only one on the bond,” Kawa said.