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Nokomis Reservoir- Lake Association ready to tackle milfoil
Marcus Nesemann/River News
A sign at a boat landing on Lake Nokomis warns boaters to clean all plant life off of their hulls before entering the water to help combat AIS, like the milfoil currently attacking the lake.
Volunteer organization ready to protect lake, sees no need for lake district
5/26/2012 7:30:00 AM
By Marcus Nesemann
As the petition in favor of forming the Lake Nokomis Lake District - submitted by the soon-to-be-defunct Lake Nokomis Concerned Citizens (LNCC) - is once again brought before the Oneida County Board for consideration, a new lake association has been formed to battle the formation of the district and protect the lake from Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) such as Eurasian watermilfoil.
The Nokomis Reservoir-Lake Association (NRLA), headed by Nokomis citizen Mike Beals, began to form last fall after lake residents received what Beals called a disturbing letter from the president of the LNCC indicating that it would not be addressing any more lake issues. The letter further indicated that the LNCC's timeline was "to cease all of the operations of the LNCC over the next 12 months."
Understanding that this would leave the lake in an unprotected state, with no one to battle AIS, Beals and a group of fellow lake residents formed a plan to implement the new, non-taxing, volunteer lake association and fight the formation of the district which would require a tax to be levied on all lake-side property owners.
Beals denounced the attempt to form the lake district, saying that the petition sent before the board does not meet all of the state requirements regarding the formation of a lake district.
Oneida County Corporation Counsel Brian Desmond stated at this month's board meeting that "the petition did not have enough signatures of owners, however, they did meet the other requirement under the statutes that they have to have a majority of the land that is encompassed in the proposed boundaries of the district so the petition did meet the legal requirements in that regard for the county board to make a decision on this proposed lake district."
While Beals will admit that the petition does meet the land mass requirements, he does not agree with the means used by the LNCC to meet said requirement.
According to Beals, the LNCC worked with Tom Kipp, president of the Wisconsin Valley Improvement Corporation (WVIC), to get the support of over 50 percent of land owners in the proposed district that it needs to meet the requirement.
The WVIC owns much of the land in the proposed lake district boundaries.
With Kipp's signature, the land mass total in favor of the district stands at 69.16 percent.
However, that figure can be misleading, according to Beals.
"Hundreds of acres of that land mass is under water, it is owned by the WVIC," Beals said. "We say, the WVIC, this swings the whole pendulum. [The LNCC] doesn't have 51 percent of the people (supporting the formation of the district) so now they have the land mass. Tom Kipp, ... that's the only signature they need to get 69 percent (of the land in the proposed district) - over 50 percent of which is under water. He pays no taxes, will never pay any taxes on this. [The WVIC] ... has no skin in the game. So, where we're at now is if the [county] board let's this district be formed, it is not going to be by the popular vote, it will be by one man with a million dollar corporation shoving an unwanted tax situation on the majority of people that do not want it. In my mind, this is not democracy. That's why we're fighting it. That's why we started the NRLA."
Beals went on to point out that the lake district fails to meet one other state requirement - the requirement of necessity.
According to Beals, the LNCC announced earlier this month that it would be disbanding by August with the hope that if the group was no longer around, the necessity of the lake district would be easily apparent.
Beals said he started his association to show that there was no need for a taxing district, that the people of the area could - and would - take care of the lake and the land that they love.
"They don't have enough people but they're using this land mass to fulfill that requirement," Beals said. "But the other [requirement] is necessity. There is no necessity. So we're stepping up to the plate. I don't want them taxing my grandmother (a life-long lake resident). We will take care of it. We are the new generation and we'll take care of this without a tax."
Beals noted that he has carefully gone through all of the requirements to form his association, and that he and his comrades are ready to battle the milfoil and protect the sanctity of their lake, without needing to levy a tax on landowners.
"We got with the government agencies and such. We are incorporated right now under state statute number 181, which is a non-taxing, non-profit corporation," Beals said. "None of our officers or board members or members will ever be compensated on dime - it's all on a volunteer basis. The money that is donated to us goes strictly to the fighting of milfoil. [Eradicating the milfoil] is very important to us. That's why we founded this."
Beals went on to talk about how important the lake is, not only to the area in general, but to himself as a person.
"I grew up swimming in diapers in the lake," Beals said. "The lake means a lot to me - that's what this is all about. The lake is what's important."
Aside from Beals' displeasure with what the LNCC has done so far, he also notes that taxing people is not the way to solve the lake's problems.
Beals is quick to point out that it is human nature to resist that which is unwantedly forced upon us, which he said is how he sees the tax the district would require. He said he thinks it would be easier and more profitable to not require people to pay anything but to instead show people the good work his group is doing and allow them to donate if, and when, they choose.
Beals said that by not requiring people to pay, many of the lake residents will be more than happy to open their checkbooks and assist in the battle against the milfoil.
Not levying a tax would also help bring a community that has been so divided over this issue back together again, Beals said.
"We have a great number of people that will give more money because they are not being forced to," Beals said. "We're going to get cohesiveness back in the neighborhood. It's going to be a great thing."
In an effort to start raising funds to fight the milfoil, Beals said he and his association have gotten advice from the DNR on how to position the organization so that it will be ready to attempt to obtain grants to assist in the war on AIS in the future, as well as planning fundraisers - such as picnics and raffles - throughout the summer.
"We are looking forward and upward and I just feel so positive about what's going to happen. It's going to be marvelous," Beals said.
More information on the Nokomis Reservoir-Lake Association can be found at www.nr-la.com.
Marcus Nesemann may be reached at
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