By Sue Moore
Members of a Barton Lake committee who circulated petitions to build sewer lines around the lake found that 37 parcel owners favored the project and 97 rejected it, according to Bob Sacksteder, co-chair of the committee.
“We decided to release the petition results at the general lake association meeting in December because we felt that all parcel owners in the proposed sewer district should learn of the results in a timely fashion,” Sacksteder said.
“This effort has been divisive within the association and may have jeopardized the trust some members have in their board,” he said. “As a volunteer who served as liaison for the board on the sewer issue, I wanted the residents to know the process we followed as well as our reasons for holding the meetings and petitioning the homeowners.”
There has been a good deal of misinformation and misunderstanding about the project with hard feelings arising on both sides of the issue, Sacksteder explained. The association’s mission statement declares that the purpose of the group is to protect and improve the quality of the lake. In keeping with the mission, they invited Alan Smaka, Wightman & Associates engineering representative, to speak to the group. His firm had been asked by the South County Sewer and Water Authority to devise a plan for sewer construction around the lakes and villages. A majority of the members attending a meeting last fall wanted to find out more about the project. It was agreed to go forward, Sacksteder said.
“While we agreed to proceed with our fact finding, we did not decide that we should adopt the sewer project. After the meetings were concluded, people involved in discovering what the community wanted decided to undertake the petition drive. We also agreed to petition people in the proposed sewer district, even if they do not pay the lake improvement tax assessment, as a courtesy and out of respect to all homeowners who would pay for the sewers,” Sacksteder pointed out.
“At homes where no one answered the door, we returned at least one other day to try to allow everyone a say in the matter, but we did not get to every house. As a result, we decided that the owners of 51 percent of the acreage in the proposed sewer district do not want sewers. Neither the township supervisor, Don Ulsh, or the president of the BLA board, Ken Hovenkamp, participated in our decision making or had any influence on the committee.
“I would like to thank all the citizens who took the time to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of the project and participated in the decision making,” Sacksteder said.