Merrillville looking at fixes for Bon Aire Lake issues
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent May 10, 2013 12:50PM
Updated: June 14, 2013 6:07AM
MERRILLVILLE--Town officials are reaching out to residents around Bon Aire Lake to help devise a management plan that would address liability issues, wildlife, drainage and other concerns that have been aired over the years.
Councilman Donald Spann, D-1st, who represents the area, and Matt Lake, executive director of Merrillville’s Stormwater Utility, met with about three dozen residents this week at St. Stephen, Martyr Church to hear their concerns and tap into their historical knowledge of the lake as they get ready to move forward.
“We’re asking for your help in putting together a master plan. We want to hear your goals, the lake’s history and where you want to go with the plan,” Lake said.
Residents complained about people from outside the area who are trespassing on their property to fish in the 21-acre body of water, saying some have been seen littering and urinating in the water. One man said there is a liability issue as well, saying the lake’s bottom is all muck and the fish aren’t safe to eat.
“If you go in the lake you aren’t coming out. You’ll sink in,” the resident said.
Spann told residents to call police if they see someone from outside the area fishing there. He said he’ll have the Indiana Department of Natural Resources check peoples’ licenses when they see them fishing the lake.
One resident said the area had no lake problems until the old, rusted culvert on Taft Place was replaced about six years ago. The current one was put in about 15 inches higher than the old culvert, resulting in some basements getting water.
Lake said a box culvert would eliminate some issues.
Lake also pointed out to residents that much of the property around the lake actually is owned by the town and they shouldn’t be doing any work on town property. Since there is no definitive line where easements begin, he suggested residents look at their plat of survey to determine their property lines.
Some residents who’ve resided around the lake for 20 years or more recalled a time when the water was clear, about 5-feet deep and people could swim and boat in it. Now, they say it’s much shallower.
Some said it needs to be dredged, but Lake said the town won’t dredge it.
Spann said most drainage ponds in Merrillville are about 2-feet deep.
“Is this a drainage pond? It could be,” Spann said.