The future of the Echo Lake dam remains in flux as City of Burlington officials are seeking input from residents prior to deciding on the fate of the dam likely in February. (Photo by Ed Nadolski)

Most who spoke at meeting favor retaining structure

By Jason Arndt

Staff Writer

The City of Burlington took its first step in receiving community input related to the Echo Lake Dam’s long-term future Tuesday at Veterans Terrace.

Peter Riggs, director of public works, said the purpose of Tuesday’s community meeting was to gauge feedback from residents through surveys presented to those in attendance.

“The main point of tonight’s meeting is provide a format for people to learn about the different options for Echo Lake Dam,” he said.

The survey allows residents to select between dam modification or removal of the structure to achieve regulatory compliance from the state Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR, according to a Dam Failure Analysis in 2015, classifies the Echo Lake dam as a “significant” hazard based on the structure’s relative size and the fact that it cannot contain the 500-year flood without overtopping the embankment into Echo Park.

Since the dam does not meet the state standards, the City of Burlington needs to find alternatives to meet compliance by 2025.

With dozens in attendance, including some from out the area, the city asked residents to fill out an Echo Lake dam spillway survey with several options.

Options include dam modifications, which consist of three alternatives varying in costs as well as dredging Echo Lake to remove 115,000 cubic yards of sediment, and dam removal with and without enhancement of the drained lakebed.

Residents look to save dam

Most residents in attendance spoke in favor of modifying the structure instead of removing the dam and causing Echo Lake to disappear.

Tom Vos, a former alderman, is one of the residents looking to save the Echo Lake dam, said he believes demolishing the structure to make way for redevelopment of the former lakebed would become more costly.

“I think it is part of Burlington. It is part of our history, and I don’t think there is any benefit to taking (the dam out),” he said. “I think the cost of removing it, and the remediation of it, and the restoration is going to cost us just as much. It is going to be something that is always going to have to be maintained.”

Vos, however, acknowledged taxpayers would be responsible for paying to achieve DNR compliance, regardless of which option the city decides on.

Burlington plans to hold another community meeting on Jan. 12 at Veterans Terrace to gauge further feedback.

      To read the full story see the Dec. 2 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.