Sunset Lake needs help, group says

Dirk Vankrimpen, a 40-year Sunset Lake resident, is worried about the health of the lake and has turned to Vicksburg Village Council members for help.

By Jef Rietsma

An officer in the Sunset Lake Association told the Vicksburg Village Council the 144-acre lake suffers from an excessive growth of algae, weeds and other issues. The problems “have turned it into crap,” said association Vice President Dirk Vankrimpen.

He urged council members to consider measures to improve the health of the lake.

The north end of the lake is in Schoolcraft Township. The south end is within the village.

Vankrimpen said the shoreline at Sunset Lake Park features what he estimated to be just 30 feet of beachfront, about 70 feet less than what it should have.

“The rest is all overgrown. That beach needs major attention,” he said. “We need assistance. We need to generate some revenue and we need help desperately. Desperately. I wish I still had my pontoon (because) I’d take you all out there and show you.”

Vankrimpen said high air temperatures tend to exacerbate the unwanted growth. He provided council members photos of the lake after consecutive days of 90-degree weather in late June 2022.

He predicted fishermen, kayakers and canoeists will likely stop frequenting the lake if precautions aren’t taken to address the concerns.

“I’m not a chemist but I know enough to stay out of there,” he said, referencing a standing joke that the lake is informally called “Scumset Lake.”

Vankrimpen, who lives in the 300 block of North Main Street, said the lake association oversaw what he called “an algae spray” in mid-June. The measure, however, was negated when temperatures shortly afterward climbed to 90 degrees.

He said there are about 50 residences on the lake. Each property owner is assessed about $400 annually for weed control and other actions for the good of the lake. He said the condition of the lake could potentially impact the value of abutting properties.

Council President Tim Frisbie acknowledged Vankrimpen’s points, saying the state of the lake is of little surprise to any Vicksburg resident.

“We all live here, we all see it daily. We all have our own concerns. We’ve had other discussions with other (lake) residents,” Frisbie said.

In a separate matter at the June 26 meeting, council members met in executive session for more than 45 minutes to go over an annual performance review regarding Village Manager Jim Mallery.

Frisbie said Mallery exceeds all expectations.

“The things that you have come up with outside and beyond a typical scope for a village manager is just … the successes are numerous,” Frisbie said, citing a lengthy list of municipal accomplishments that can be directly credited to the 55-year-old Mallery. “You started this journey seven years ago (and) put us in a position to succeed. It hasn’t gone unnoticed. I don’t think you could have gotten a better review.”

Later, council members approved the village’s 2023-24 fiscal year budget. The current fiscal year started July 1 and concludes June 30, 2024.

Projected revenue over the 12-month period is more than $10.4 million, while anticipated expenditures are in excess of $8.4 million, Mallery said.

Council members also approved placing special assessments on 2023 property tax bills for delinquency in payment owed to the village. The total owed is $11,022.

Mallery also provided an update on three trees still under warranty from when they were planted downtown last year. A tree in front of Distant Whistle and another by Main Street Pub will be replaced at no cost to the village. A third tree, on the south side of Family Fare, will be removed. It was the second tree in that location to die. Mallery said a planter will be placed in that location instead.

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