The future of the Echo Lake dam remains in flux as City of Burlington officials await the results of a study, expected later this fall, that will estimate the costs to upgrade the dam to comply with state standards or remove it. (Photo by Ed Nadolski)

Hefty says city must wait until study is complete

By Ed Nadolski

Editor in Chief

In a move that was reminiscent of Aaron Rodgers’ famous advice to Packers fans in 2014 – “R-E-L-A-X” – Burlington Mayor Jeannie Hefty called for calm from city residents as officials work to decide the future of the Echo Lake Dam.

On Sept. 2, Hefty issued a two-page news release imploring citizens to be patient as engineering consultants and city staff compile options for preserving and removing the dam.

Once that process is complete, likely sometime this fall, according to Hefty, residents will be given an opportunity to weigh in on the options before the Common Council makes a decision.

Jeannie Hefty

“I’m trying to have a calming effect,” Hefty said of her press release. It was prompted, she said, by the high levels of “emotion and misinformation” she’s heard in the community and read on social media platforms.

Like Rodgers – who earned a Pro Bowl nod as his team qualified for the playoffs following its 1-2 start in 2014 – Hefty said she is hoping to have a successful conclusion for the decision on the dam.

But, she said, a decision must be based on reason and facts – not raw emotion.

“This is huge for Burlington,” she said Wednesday. “Everything is going to be presented to the community. We have to get community input.”

But, until the research is complete and the options are presented, “we are at a standstill,” she said.

City officials have until 2025 to revamp or remove the dam under an order from the Department of Natural Resources.

When the options are considered and a decision is made, the city can move forward in an attempt to seek grants or raise funds for whatever is decided. But, Hefty said, the city has more than three years until the deadline.

To read the full story, including a recent history of the issue and the debate in the community, see the Sept. 9 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.