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Lake Mitchell committee sets Sept. 21 for public forum

Residents still on the fence about a plan to restore Lake Mitchell will have another chance to learn what Fyra Engineering has to offer. Mike Sotak, of the Omaha-based company, will come to Mitchell on Sept. 21 to give a presentation about the $7...

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A boat floats across Lake Mitchell in this file photo from 2015. (Daily Republic file photo)

Residents still on the fence about a plan to restore Lake Mitchell will have another chance to learn what Fyra Engineering has to offer.

Mike Sotak, of the Omaha-based company, will come to Mitchell on Sept. 21 to give a presentation about the $73,725 first phase of Fyra’s proposed plan. Sotak will present the plan from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Nordby Trades Center at Mitchell Technical Institute, followed by a question-and-answer session from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Sotak will be joined by members of the Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee, the group that both recommended the plan to the City Council and approved the time and date of the forum.

Committee President Joe Kippes spoke of the benefits of a public discussion with one of Fyra’s representatives during the group’s regular meeting Tuesday at the Mitchell Recreation Center.

“We’ll explain what this $71,000 is doing and what role it plays in the bigger effort with Fyra,” Kippes said. “And then, following that, we can go back to the council and then ask the council to consider this once we have that public meeting.”

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If the City Council approves the first phase of Fyra’s plan to improve Lake Mitchell’s water quality, Fyra would collect $70,725 from the city of Mitchell. The first $3,000 of the project was already approved and completed earlier this year when core samples of Lake Mitchell were drawn and analyzed.

The plan would achieve five tasks, including defining the issues within the lake, development of a nutrient mass balance, determining the pollutant loads, developing a water quality lake response model and initiating community-based planning.

Once the first phase is completed, the council would then decide whether to move forward with a second phase at an estimated cost of $100,000 to $300,000 to determine grant funding availability and develop a watershed plan.

If the city approved the first two phases, implementing the plan could be costly, according to Kippes.

“The sticker shock associated with this needs to be made clear that it’s a $15 million project that’s probably going to cost locally somewhere between 25 and 40 percent of that $15 million,” Kippes said.

Kippes said the $15 million estimate was determined using a past project completed by Fyra at Carter Lake on the Iowa-Nebraska border. Carter Lake is approximately half the size of Lake Mitchell, and the restoration project cost $7.5 million. Although the lake board cautioned that Lake Mitchell’s project could be more expensive or less costly than the project at Carter Lake.

Before moving on to its final discussion topic, some committee members thanked those who presented Fyra’s plan to the City Council last week. While the council tabled the discussion, Councilwoman Bev Robinson suggested Fyra’s plan may have had enough support to be approved.

“If we didn’t have the motion to table, I think we possibly would have had the votes to run it through,” Robinson said.

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The committee also took time Tuesday to set two agenda items for its Oct. 11 meeting.

Kippes said he’s been approached to consider adding more fish habitat to the lake, an issue he said at least one resident felt was overlooked as the committee spent a year reviewing Fyra’s plan.

Kippes said he heard a suggestion to hold a raffle or fundraising to help gather funds for more fish habitat, funds that could possibly be matched by the City Council.

“Having some skin in the game seems to be a good way to proceed with this stuff,” Kippes said.

The committee will also continue its years-long discussion regarding the addition of a public marina or series of boat docks at Lake Mitchell.

Related Topics: LAKE MITCHELL
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