Despite a low-keyed summer, the Lake Preservation Association's effort to expand dredging of Storm Lake has sunk in deeply with the community, it seems.
"This seems to be one cause everyone can rally around," said Gary Lalone, one of the leaders of the LPA fundraising effort. "Most projects have some positives and negatives to them, but all the people we are coming into contact with seem to agree on the importance of the lake. Whether they live in the city or the county, the people do appreciate the value of this lake and it does affect all of our lives."
The effort has moved forward this season rather quietly - the LPA members have hoped to avoid drawing any attention away from several other projects and celebrations, Lalone said, and will take their own efforts to reach the public to a new level this fall.
Still, private fundraising has climbed to the $370,000 mark to go with $600,000 investments and pledges from the City of Storm Lake and Buena Vista County, as well as funding from the City of Lakeside.
With the support of the DNR Director Jeff Vonk, the LPA expects to have the inside shot at about $350,000 in additional state money.
"That puts us at about $1.92 million, and we're still out there. This is just in the infancy stage, and we've barely started to reach out to people. We are very pleased with the response," he said.
KAYL Radio just announced that it will give proceeds of about $1,400 from its fundraiser to the LPA.
LPA leaders are meeting weekly to refine their planning, with expectations that enough funds will be on hand to begin a local dredging effort in 2003. It is hoped that the project can continue for five years or more, with the ideal goal to be dredging half the lake's area to 13 feet in depth.
Representatives of the LPA toured the Five Island Lake local dredging site at Emmetsburg last week, finding that the project there has been able to convert spoil soil back to productive farmland. "It has happened very quickly, and of course, that has major implications on what we are doing here," Lalone said.
The LPA will also be meeting soon to elect board and committee members, and is seeking more volunteers.
"There is a lot of work left to be done - not just in dredging, but in continued environmental efforts throughout the watershed, working with the DNR, local leaders and political leaders in the state and nation," Lalone said.
The project has receive a great deal of positive press in the local, regional and state media, which has been good for the community, Lalone said. "We will do whatever we can to let our message get out to people and to the decision-makers, so we can assure that we have a project next spring," he said.
The LPA members have great appreciation for the support they have received, he added.
"We owe the people a huge thank you for where we are at currently. Everyone has been so positive, with a big pop right from the time we announced the project in June," he said.
Donations can be made to Lake Preservation Association of Storm Lake, and an be dropped off at the chamber of commerce office or the Pilot-Tribune. More information is available by calling 732-3986 or 732-7379.