Facelifts planned for two area lakes

Plans are underway to create major improvements and renovations to two local lakes, boosting the fishing and usability of two of the areas most established parks - Arnold State Park and Victoria Springs State Recreation Area. The plans were unveiled to the public in an informational meeting Jan. 12, at the Community Center in Arnold, with more than 40 people in attendance. Project manager Jon Trombino of EA Engineering outlined the plan for each lake project, and began by summarizing the main problems at the lakes. These are: ~ Fish kills from poor oxygen levels ~ Vegetation and algae problems from a lack of depth ~ Failing outlet structures ~ Poor fish habitat ~ Poor angler and boating access Trombino also outlines the plan for correcting these problems: ~ Deepen at least 25 percent of the lake to 12 feet ~ Replace outlet structures ~ Improve shoreline access ~ Provide ADA parking and ADA angler access ~ Improve boating access ~ Improve access roads Plans for deepening the lakes include removing an estimated 36,000 cubic yards of sediment at Arnold, and about 20,000 cubic yards of sediment at Victoria Springs. A pond sealing substance will be used at Victoria Springs to prevent the lake from draining when it is dug down. To improve fish habitat, scallop habitat structures and shoal habitat structures will be added. Old broken concrete pieces and downed trees will provide a habitat conducive for fish to live in and around, and artificial gravel-top spawning beds will be added. A 12-foot wide concrete angler-boating access is planned, with the ramp at Arnold being improved and a new ramp being put in at Victoria Springs. Plans for Arnold Lake The lake at the Arnold park is currently only six feet deep. When the project is completed, the lake will be 12 feet deep in most spots. Rubble piles and spawning beds will be added to improve fish habitat. Some new access roads will have to be constructed during the project, however Trombino says the goal will be to maintain as much of the natural shoreline as possible and not remove any more trees than necessary. The top level of the lake will remain the same, and since the "island" is a wetland, it will stay as is. The plan is to breech the dam and then rebuild the lake. The village of Arnold will actually be the owners of the lake and all the water rights. Once the lake is finished it will be stocked with bass and blue gill to start with. As the lake is being drained, wildlife biologists will be on hand to save as many fish as possible, which will then be relocated to another lake. None of the fish currently in the lake will remain. Plans for Victoria Springs Lake Like Arnold, the plan for Victoria Springs is to make the lake 12 feet deep throughout the majority of the lake. The dike will be breached and the lake drained, and gravel spawning beds and rubble piles for the fish will be added. The stocking plan for the fish at Victoria Springs will be about the same as Arnold, with large-mouth bass and blue gill being the first fish introduced. A new 12-foot wide boat ramp will be built, as well as a 30x10-foot docking area for the paddle boats. Steps will be built down the bank from the cabins, allowing guests in the cabins access to the water. Timeline and Costs The plan is to bid the two projects together, in hopes of getting a better deal, Trombino explained. The cost estimate for the Arnold project is approximately $550,000, while early projections for the Victoria Srings project are approximately $650,000 - higher because of the pond seal and a few more extra things needing done to it. About 25 percent of the cost of the project will be paid with a portion of fees from fishing permits. The other 75 percent will be paid for with sport fish restoration dollars - which is federal grant money - and surface environmental trust grant funds. Trombino says the best case scenario is that the project will be completed within a 6-month window. The hope is to have the project out for bid by early spring. That process is being delayed waiting on a water right permit from the Department of Natural Resources. Trombino explains that permit is neccessary, as that is what will give the village of Arnold ownership of the water. Should everything go as planned, the hope of the engineers is to have construction completed in time for the 2013 season.