Burden of dam must be shared

To the editor:

This is in response to the article “Dealing with the dam” in the July 27/28 edition.

One point that was not reiterated enough is that this tax bill is being passed on only to the people that own property frontage on Otter Lake.

You have around 80 families being handed the tax bill for the up keep of a dam that was built 40 years ago by the state for the benefit of those living down stream from the dam.

Not people living on the lake itself. Some people down here are still paying property taxes on land that is under water all year because of the dam.

The state of Michigan could not afford the upkeep of this dam and “gave” it to Houghton County.

They cannot afford the upkeep either and are trying to pass the cost on to a very few families that own frontage on Otter Lake by forming a new “tax district” to give the bills to. The $30,000 that Mr. Pekkala, the drain commissioner, has already spent went mostly for costly legal fees when he hired an attorney from the Lansing area to represent Houghton County.

It also went for a pretty map he had commissioned to be done by hiring a company to fly over the lake in their plane, and one dam inspection.

This is the bill he wants us to pay. Nothing has yet been done to the actual dam.

Common consensus down here on the lake is that we would have preferred the $30,000 dollars had been spent on a feasibility study to see if it is possible to naturalize the dam or take it out completely, there by preventing future bills/taxation on upkeep of a dam that never should have been built in the first place, as it has destroyed the fishing here (Fish cannot get over the dam to spawn in the lake anymore).

We are one of the few families that live down here year round. We are already paying over $3,000 a year in property taxes on a 1.8 acre parcel with a small 1,100 square foot house.

This is not a private lake. This lake is enjoyed by boaters and fishermen because of the two fee DNR boat launches that are here.

If Houghton County wants more revenue, they can start by charging for the use of the launches.

Gary and Carol Vyncke