Truesdale Lake  

South Salem, New York

Letter to Lake Residents June 2006

TRUESDALE LAKE RESTORATION PROJECT

HELP SAVE TRUESDALE LAKE!!

Follow up to our Community Meeting on March 28th 2006

Dear neighbor,

Greetings! As the Presidents of the Truesdale Lake Property Owners’ Association and Truesdale Estates Associations [305 houses around Lake Truesdale], We are writing to bring you up to date about the health of Lake Truesdale, and some necessary steps we must take in an effort to preserve the beauty of our lake, and ultimately the value of our lake properties. If you were able to come to the community meeting, this may be repetitious; but for those unable to come, this is what was discussed.

First, a little history:

Our lake and dam are over 75 years old. Lake Truesdale has two beaches and two boards – Truesdale Lake Property Owners Association (TLPOA) and Truesdale Estates Association (TEA).  Both boards are comprised of volunteers committed to supporting the community and the quality of the lake. While these two associations do not encompass all the lakefront properties, we have been serving as the stewards of the lake on everyone’s behalf.

For those that have lived in the lake community for over 10 years, there has been a visible degradation in the health of Lake Truesdale. Inviting clear water has become, on the worst days, so green with algae it’s not swimmable. Easy paddling has become, on the worst days, completely impassable: thick with weeds. After growing concern, the boards decided to pursue studies to understand what, if anything, could be done.  With the communities’ permission, studies began 5 years ago which uncovered several problem spots around our lake.  This then required the development of engineering plans to fix them.  Engineering studies and detailed plans of the lake and the dam have been done by two companies: Land Tech and HTE Northeast.

The Studies, Plans & Estimated Cost:

The Land Tech lake study told us that there are 6 high-impact inflow areas around the lake. These are areas where work could (and should) be done that would significantly improve the quality of the water in our lake, and its long-term life. The good news is that our lake is a healthy, active community in many ways. The bad news is, sometimes the plants are a bit too active with phosphorus levels high. Human impacts, particularly road runoff, are severely impacting parts of the lake by washing in extra silt and nutrients which in turn threaten the vitality of the entire lake. While nature’s intention is to very slowly create a swamp out of Lake Truesdale, these spots are severely hastening the process. The studies conclude that while there is little we can do without much higher expense to completely eliminate fill already in the lake, we can fix the spots and halt further degradation.

The Land Tech dam study told us that there were some issues with the dam that would need to be addressed in the coming years. After requesting proposals, we hired HTE Northeast, a company that focuses exclusively on dams, to do a more in-depth study. HTE concluded that the dam would require some work in order to preserve its integrity. Basically, rock ‘riprap’ needs to be added, mostly on the downstream side, to create a more solid barrier against large storms. In addition, the spillway needs reinforcing. This will help to ensure the dam will be with us for another 75 years.

Both Land Tech and HTE Northeast have made it clear that this work is important and will help preserve the long-term integrity of the dam, the beauty of our lake, and ultimately the value of our lake properties. Preliminary estimates from Land Tech and HTE are $700,000 for the six high inflow areas plus repairing the dam. In addition, $75,000 has been paid-to-date for the studies and engineering plans over a 5-year period. Add in interest, permit fees, and possible legal fees, we are estimating the need to spend over $1,000,000 on the lake and dam. Discussions have been held with members of the two Truesdale Lake Boards – TLPOA and TEA – to think about how to do the necessary work and how to pay for it.

Raising Money:

The great news is that Lewisboro has applied for and received a grant from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), from which Lake Truesdale will see at least $62,000. In addition, the town is required by the grant stipulations to match these funds. Because of the type of grant, this money will be put towards one of the lake projects. Further opportunities for funds include grants from the Department for Environmental Conservation (DEC), adoption by the DEC projects budget, further assistance from the town under HTE supervision, and other grants through the town’s grant consultants. Even after pursuing these additional sources of funds, money from the community will be required. Grants cover very specific projects and usually don’t include any ongoing maintenance costs.

After consulting with an outside land use attorney, Don Rossi, the best solution seems to be to create a tax district, for the approximately 305 families who directly benefit from the health of Lake Truesdale. Don knows our issues first hand, living on Peach Lake. He assured us that the creation of a lake tax district is a common practice in areas such as ours where multiple lake associations make raising money nearly impossible. It ensures equal investment in the lake from all who benefit, provides us access to low cost loans only available to the town, gives access to grant funds, continues monitoring and management of the lake health, and creates a stronger political force. Best of all, besides being an investment in the future of our property values, a tax district allows the money for capital improvements and ongoing maintenance to be tax-deductible off your income tax.

We have several goals in mind as we consider the next steps:

1) Members of the TLPOA and TEA Boards believe that the work presents the best, most effective way to improve the health of our lake and should be done in order to preserve the lake’s beauty and value.

2) We would like to complete the work in the next two years, with work beginning in September 2007 on the dam and the six high-impact inflow areas.

3) We are aiming to keep the cost per family as minimal as possible. By dividing the cost among the 305 lake families, our target is to keep costs below an average of $300 per family per year. While a final budget of costs, length of loan, and possible further grant funding can still change this amount, our ultimate goal is to preserve our lake & our property values for as low a price as possible.

4) We heard loud and clear at the meeting that while there is much support for a tax district, there is also fear of the town’s control over our Lake and our restoration efforts. We are talking with Don Rossi about passing a Legislative Act to establish a board of commissioners with this tax district. The Board would be members of the community who would manage the money.

5) The tax district will move forward only once we have created a petition to the town. This petition will require a defined budget with signatures from owners of at least 51% of the assessed property value within the tax district. We want to make every effort to answer all of your questions and to structure this tax district in a way that provides controls where they’re needed. Please register at TruesdaleLake.com with your email address so that we can stay in contact with you about this project as it continues to unfold.

While the board members are moving towards funding these capital projects, there are things you can do right now that have an immediate positive effect on the health of Lake Truesdale.

Please read Doing Your Part to Preserve the Health of our Lake found at our website: TruesdaleLake.com. Also online, under the ‘Restoration Project’ link are all the details pertaining to this project, including the studies, plans, timelines, and Q&A.

On behalf of the TLPOA and TEA Boards,

David Sachs                               Rob Cummings

President TLPOA President TEA

(914) 763-8165                          (914) 763-0881

to send email, use the Contact Us link to the left.

P.S. We are always searching for new ways to lower the costs and solve issues at hand. If you have any ideas or are willing to roll up your sleeves to help, we welcome a call or email from you.