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OUR VIEW: Transparency will be driving force behind Lake Mitchell restoration

It's Sunshine Week across the nation, a time to shine a light on government openness, and an even brighter light on the absence of transparency. And Sunshine Week couldn't have come at a better time for Mitchell.

Green algae flows along the western bank of Lake Mitchell just north of the amphitheater on Wednesday afternoon. (Matt Gade/Republic)
Green algae flows along the western bank of Lake Mitchell just north of the amphitheater on Wednesday afternoon. (Matt Gade/Republic)

It's Sunshine Week across the nation, a time to shine a light on government openness, and an even brighter light on the absence of transparency. And Sunshine Week couldn't have come at a better time for Mitchell.

Last week marked the kickoff of the Watershed Advisory Committee (WAC) and Technical Advisory Team (TAT) meetings as part of a $73,725 preliminary study to improve the water quality at algae-ridden Lake Mitchell. But the meetings were held behind closed doors.

When The Daily Republic asked about the meetings, we were told the initial meetings would be held privately and a recap would be given during Tuesday's Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee meeting. What's concerning, however, is that the taxpayer-funded project cannot be properly accessed by those same taxpayers.

According to an email provided by Fyra Engineering to the city of Mitchell that was handed out at a November Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee meeting, the WAC is meant to "Help educate and update the community about the project." But when no agenda is made public and the meeting is held behind closed doors, how can the public be educated about the project they themselves paid for?

The Lake Mitchell restoration project will have trouble being successful if the public isn't given every opportunity to be involved, particularly since the second and third phases of the restoration haven't been approved by the City Council. If the public isn't allowed to participate in meetings, it could be challenging to convince already skeptical Mitchell residents to commit city funds to a large-scale restoration effort.

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We believe the city is taking a long-awaited step in the right direction regarding the cleanup of Lake Mitchell, and we hope the project moves forward with great success. But that success won't come without the city's support.

We hope the rest of the WAC and TAT meetings are public moving forward, and we encourage Fyra Engineering to share as many relevant details as possible throughout the initial phase of the restoration process. The more transparency there is on the project, the more likely it is that better days are yet to come for Lake Mitchell.

Related Topics: LAKE MITCHELL
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