When the City Wanted to Dredge Lake Winona

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Posted December 4, 2018

A decision to ask the special session of the state legislature permission for the city to issue $75,000 worth of quick-maturing bonds as the city’s share in the proposed program of the federal government’s Works Progress Administration to dredge out and beautify Lake Winona for a huge recreational area was reached by the city council at its meeting at the city hall last night.

“Lake Winona must be dredged and if we can get government help and have the work done for a cost to us of about 30 cents on the dollar, I believe we should take advantage of the WPA and act quickly,” Mr. Emil Leicht, member of the Winona Park Board and leading advocate of dredging. “This resolves itself into a question of whether or not the city wants to save the lake. Do you want to spend $75,000 now and get the job done right or wait a few years and spend $225,000 or more?”

A. Rose, WPA area engineer, explained the project, “This lake project can be brought down to around (the average WPA project cost) if the city furnishes about $75,000 of the cost of the $228,000 job. This project will give employment to about 150 men for a year. Under the plan, the dredging would be let by contract by the government. It calls for deep dredging and a complete, clean job at both ends of the lake.”

Aldermen studied a sketch of the project made by the architectural firm of Boyum, Schubert & Sorensen showing Lake Drive extended around the entire lake. Lake Park continued from Franklin Street to Mankato Avenue, a baseball diamond, tennis courts, playground, bathing beach and bathhouse at the east end of the lake; playground, tennis courts, athletic field and football stadium at the west end of the lake and room for another bathing beach and bathhouse.

“If $2 million dollars can be spent for new schools in the city, it seems that we ought to be able to afford $75,000 for the lake project,” Mr. Leicht said. “If you don’t think citizens use the area, go down there on a hot summer night and see for yourselves. Galesville is raising $15,000 for its lake dredging project.”

It was brought out that because of the texture of the soil, the reclaimed land may have to settle two or three years before permanent improvements such as drives can be made on it but Mr. Rose said there is some gravel and sand in the lake, and there will be sufficient hand labor to work over a mixture which would stand up.

Answering criticism that taxpayers want expenditures reduced and economy practiced yet they are now asking for a $75,000 bond issue for the project, Frank G.. Brown said eventually the lake will have to be dredged and “we consider the expenditure of $75,000 now an investment on the part of taxpayers.” He ventured the opinion that the city would not have any difficulty with property owners in acquiring enough property now privately owned for extension of the driveway.

“Sooner or later, you will have to dredge the lake or lose it,” C. D Tearse told the group. “No one can appreciate, unless he watches it very closely, how fast we are losing it. We are informed that about 1,150 carloads of silt are being dumped into the lake every year and not one person out of 9,000 realizes the seriousness of the situation.”

He told of the weed-cutting work of the park board, said in some places the lake is so filled with silt the weed cutter boat cannot be moved and said the mass of weeds is growing so rapidly “we don’t dare stop cutting them down or they would be so thick after one year you could walk on them.”

“If you don’t do something about it now,” he continued, “it will soon become a bog. Then something will be done.” He said some of the development plan is visionary “but the weeds are not visionary,” and he agreed with Mr. Leicht that this is the logical time to proceed with the work.

Every alderman declared himself in favor of doing something about “cleaning up the lake,” and several stated the view that if the city did not take advantage of the present proposed project the city would have to do it alone in the near future or else see Lake Winona shrink.

“The lake will become a stinkhole if we don’t do something about cleaning it out in a few years,” said one.

“All of us,” declared Alderman Arthur J. Frey of the Third ward, “are in favor of improving Lake Winona. It would be a fine thing for the whole city. The only question bothering the council is the decision about which is the best way to do it.”

Source: Winona Daily News