Editorial: Dredging lake has strong supportPublished 10:35am Friday, March 2, 2012
Dredging Fountain Lake is crucial to the cleaning of the Shell Rock River’s watershed and crucial to living in Albert Lea, and now is the time to do it.
We urge the Minnesota Legislature and Minn. Gov. Mark Dayton to approve $7.5 million on bonding to assist with the $15 million project. Albert Leans overwhelmingly approved in November 2005 a local-option half-cent sales tax for cleaning local waters, which pays for the other half of the cost of dredging. Dredging Fountain Lake was a high priority often stated during the campaign to pass the tax referendum. It is clear that dredging the lake has strong community support.
Moreover, the Shell Rock River Watershed District has taken the necessary measures to clean the lakes, streams and ditches above Fountain Lake in the watershed. The lead-up work is done.
We’ve seen many of the bonding bill requests from other places. Albert Lea residents are not asking the state for help with a ballpark for amateur sports, for expanding a civic center, for beautifying a streetscape, for an all-terrain-vehicle trail, for a dolphin tank or for a sculpture garden.
Albert Lea residents are asking for something basic — that the lake that sits right in the middle of town be clean, that the lake their children swim in be clean, that the lake the visitors come to enjoy be clean.
This is not a feature of our city that some people use, like so many of the bonding requests we see. This lake is an asset that all residents use. Our hospital overlooks this lake. Our best places to run, walk, bike and even drive are along this lake. People swim, boat and relax in, on and by this lake. Fountain Lake is the gem of Albert Lea, a lake that many freeway travelers don’t realize makes this city what it is, a lake that draws people to reside here.
It’s not some lake for the people with homes on the water. About three-quarters of the shore belongs to the city. It’s the people’s lake.
Lawmakers, help us clean this water. Include this project in the bonding bill.