Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Shawn Jansen
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Island Lake outlet project to finally move ahead

Windemere Township selects new Sturgeon Island bridge option


The Windemere Township Board reached decisions on some long-standing issues at its regular meeting on Thursday, June 13.

Supervisors voted to take ownership of the easement for the Island Lake outlet, along with its future maintenance. The decision was met with applause from the residents attending the meeting. Jill Carlier, district manager of Pine County Soil and Water Conservation District, said the county attorney would draft the easement deed.

The township has already approved up to $30,000 of in-kind work to clear the outlet and construct the waterway. Carlier said in a phone interview Monday that Soil and Water engineers are working closely with the Department of Natural Resources to draw up the final plan for the outlet. She said the Windemere Township Lakes Association has already contributed funds for the survey.

Carlier said once the plan is approved, they will begin the permitting process. She is hoping the project will be completed this summer.

Supervisor Heidi Kroening said, “Thanks for hanging in there, Jill.” The project has been needed since a large rain event in 2016 flooded homes along the lakeshore due to the damaged culverts not allowing water to drain adequately from the lake.

Sturgeon Island bridge

The Sturgeon Island bridge will be replaced with a new, 20-foot wide concrete one. The Windemere Town Board approved the replacement Thursday night which was one of three options being considered. The estimated cost of the replacement is $313,000. The township will only be responsible for a total of $20,000 for the project because it is eligible for town bridge account which is funded by the state’s gas tax. The township will contribute $10,000 toward engineering plans for the bridge and $10,000 toward its construction.

One alternative was to replace the current bridge to the same specifications at a cost of $237,000 plus $53,000 for the cover.

The current bridge is a 13-foot wide, historic covered bridge which does not meet state standards regarding its width and approaches, and therefore does not qualify for state funding unless variances are obtained from the state. It was deemed highly unlikely the state would grant those variances due to safety concerns, leaving the township on the hook for the full cost of replacement under this scenario.

Another alternative was to refurbish the existing bridge at a cost of $280,000 plus $98,000 for the cover. Again, this alternative would require the two variances.

The board approved asking Erickson Engineering, the firm hired for the project, to cease the variance requests to the state.

Supervisor Pete Steen said replacing the cover for the bridge could be addressed “down the road.”

“I think we’re looking at next summer,” Board Chair John Wesely said regarding the bridge’s completion.

Road T-756 to be adopted

Township supervisors will be directing the township attorney, Kevin Hofstad, to draft a resolution declaring Road T-756 to be a township road. The decision was reached after learning from the surveyor, Ben Anderson of StraightLine Surveying, the road is “where it’s supposed to be” according to Wesely.

High water on Sturgeon Lake

Scott Quittem, resident on Sturgeon Island Road, approached the township supervisors regarding flooding on his property near the Sturgeon Island bridge. Throughout the discussion it was mentioned the water level in Sturgeon Lake is about 9 inches higher than the ordinary high water mark.

Quittem showed photographs of his flooded property. He said he has owned the property for 15 years but has not had issues until the road was changed to asphalt and a culvert was placed improperly. He claimed the lake has grown over 300 acres since he moved there. He also claimed the culvert was not replaced when Lakeland Road was redone during a low level period.

There was some discussion from residents about where the water flowed from Sturgeon Lake, whether it flowed into neighboring lakes or even had an outlet.

Anderson said he verified where the water was running at Quittem’s property and confirmed there was a plugged culvert. He said the property has a low spot, but the township and property owner would have to work together because the homeowner can’t even pump the water out without blocking one end or the water would just flow back onto his property.

Anderson explained the solution needed to consider the question, “What are you designing for?”

Wesely said, “I wish I had an answer to this.” He added that he thought the outlets were under county roads, so he would approach the county about the issue.

Other business

The board approved a bid for chip sealing, for which there is $85,000 budgeted.

The board approved getting an appraisal of the Dobos Bar and Grill property to help them determine whether or not to purchase the property from the county for $1 or release the lien and let them sell it. The property still needs some cleaning up after the business was destroyed by a fire in the fall of 2011.

A joint meeting of the Windemere Township Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission was set for 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 13, to revisit the comprehensive plan.


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