In an effort to explore all avenues of funding available to help heal Grand Lake St. Marys, a local lake improvement group is turning to a professional. Lake Improvement Association members recently approved the hiring of a lobbyist to help it secure funding to help it in its battle to clean up the lake. LIA President Tim Lovett made the announcement during the group’s monthly meeting this past weekend.
“Now we have to end up making this happen,” Lovett said. “We believe we can make this move forward. We went out and we hired a lobbyist and what this gentleman’s job is — and we’ve been very pointed in what we want him to do — his job is to go out and find money for this alum treatment.”
During a news conference two weeks ago, Gov. John Kasich and members of his cabinet announced plans for an alum test as soon as the weather breaks as well as the possibility of an entire lake application.
With the state facing a projected $8 billion shortfall, Lovett said every possible avenue of funding must be explored because alum is seen as a short-term solution to helping the lake and keeping it open this year.
“If we do not get alum in this lake this spring and get some sustainability in the short term, it’s going to be a really, really tough road ahead to move this plan,” Lovett said. “It isn’t that we don’t trust the fact the state can get the money to get the alum, we just don’t trust anyone.”
Due to the classification structure of the Grand Lake Restoration Commission, it cannot hire a lobbyist, Lovett said, and that is where the LIA comes into play as it will be the group to fund this expense.
“We can do lobbying,” Lovett said. “We are talking $2,500 a month to do this and we will probably know within three months how effective we will be. It’s important enough that we keep very focused on what we need to do.”
Lovett said the lobbyist, Bob Doyle of Dayton, is “well connected” and has the means to help the group meet its goal of securing funding.
Lovett also encouraged residents who own property around the lake to talk with the county auditor of their county of residence to discuss property valuations. The situation of the lake could impact those valuations, he said.
“I think you need to take a look at it,” Lovett said.
Interim Park Manager Brian Miller briefed members on current events at the park. Miller praised the quick work of Kasich’s cabinet regarding Grand Lake St. Marys and the state’s action plan in the coming months.
Miller unveiled plans for additional dredging on the lake this year, which will take place as soon as the ice thaws on the lake. Miller said Freedom Outdoors is poised to take over the empty state marina.
Miller also unveiled plans for a carp derby — slated to be held June 3-5 at the lake. In its action plan, the LRC noted the removal of rough fish, of which carp is included, should help reduce phosphorus levels in Grand Lake St. Marys.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Miller said.
READ THE FULL STORY By MIKE BURKHOLDER, Wapakoneta Daily News