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Dredging committee criticizes Delafield council

City of Delafield - Some members of a citizens committee appointed to find alternative methods for funding the dredging of Lake Nagawicka sharply criticized the Common Council Wednesday night for its decision earlier this week not to seek a state grant for the project.

"I am disappointed. It puts some cuffs on our hands as to what we can do," said Al Zeitlow, the chairman of the Plan B Dredging Committee.

The committee was appointed by Mayor Ed McAleer and the Common Council after voters in October of 2009 defeated a referendum authorizing the city to borrow money for the $5 million project and levy special assessments against lake home owners to help repay the bonds.

The council, on a nearly unanimous voice vote,  decided Monday night not to seek a state grant that might have, according to city officials, paid between $500,000 and $700,000 of the project. The grant money,according to Zeitlow, would have helped pay for removing about 44,000 cubic yards of silt from the northwest channels of the lake.

Mayor Ed McAleer who watched the committee meeting on the city's government access channel, said he would place reconsideration of the grant on the agenda for a special council meeting scheduled for Monday, May 24 at the Fish Hatchery.

Committee member Mark Millot pointed out the council apparently made the decision last week without conferring with either Zietlow or Lake Welfare Committee Chairman Kent Attwell.

"With hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake, I cannot believe that the decision was made by the council without  you, the chairman of the Lake Welfare Committee, and the City Public Works Director being there," Millot said.

Alderwoman Beth Leonard, a member of the committee, explained that both Public Works Director Tom Hafner and City Administrator Tim Schuenke suggested in memos to the council that the city was not ready to seek the grant and might be obligated to fund the remaining portions of the project not paid for by the grant.

Futhermore, Schuenke told the council, the city's ability to gain future grants from DNR might be jeopardized if the city either did not complete funding for the project or turned down the grant.

Committee member Raffi Shirikian rebutted there was money in the city's budget to pay for part of the project. He said city could have negotiated the terms of the grant with DNR if the agency was willing to award some state funds for the project.

Zeitlow later asserted the committee, which has been working since the beginning of the year, may be wasting its time if the Common Council will not commit to support city wide funding of dredging and future maintenance of the lake.

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