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Council will consider tax to allow dredging of Cattail Creek channels $92,000 project could begin next month


It was about eight years ago, but Lorie Thiesen can still remember it as if it were yesterday: She and her soon-to-be husband, Michael, rented an 18-foot sailboat and cruised into Cattail Creek.

"We got stuck in the end of the creek because it was so shallow," recalled Thiesen, who married the next year and moved into a home on Robinson Landing Road last year. "We had to get out into the muck and push."

Thiesen and 14 other residents who live near the head of the Magothy River tributary may not have that problem much longer. The County Council is considering an ordinance that would place their homes in a special tax district for the purposes of paying for a major dredging project this winter.

If the council passes the ordinance at tomorrow night's meeting, the county will use a loan from the state Department of Natural Resources to dredge the spur channels for the residents of the Cattail Creek Waterways Improvement District.

The $92,000 project could begin next month, said Carolyn Kirby, a budget management analyst with the county's budget office.

The no-interest state loan is part of DNR's Waterways Improvement Fund, Kirby said. The county will pay DNR, which will reimburse the county.

The county, in turn, will levy a special tax on the residents to repay the state over the next 25 years, Kirby said.

The dredging is part of a larger project that started last winter, said Robert Gaudette, director of engineering and construction for DNR. The contractor was limited to dredging only the main channel because he was nearing the end of the dredging season, which typically extends from Nov. 15 to Feb. 15, Gaudette said.

"The perch spawning in the creek was such that DNR would not let them go beyond the window," he said.

The residents will pay about $1,000 more this year than they would have last year because the contractor is mechanically dredging the channels, which entails using a crane on a barge and is less efficient than hydraulic dredging, Gaudette said.

When the work is completed, the creek should maintain its 5-foot-deep channel for about 15 years, he said.

The creek has been deteriorating for years, said Michael Kolakowski, who has lived on Topeg Drive for 23 years.

Kolakowski said the creek once was filled with an abundance of underwater vegetation and aquatic life.

But loose soil from crumbling shorelines filled the tributary, choking the plants and driving away the fish, he said.

"Since they dredged the main channel, the water has been cleaner," Kolakowski said. "We don't have boats hitting the bottom and stirring the dirt, and maybe the grass will grow and the fish will come back."

The sediment and low tides have forced Sue and Frederick Betz to judge -- with pinpoint accuracy -- when to sail and dock their 30-foot sailboat.

"There have been times when I have run down to the pier and the boat was almost in motion when I got in," said Sue Betz, who has lived on Topeg Drive for 13 years. "We do have to watch the tides carefully."

Thiesen said she hopes the sediment won't return after the dredging.

"If it [the channel] stays deep, then I think [the cost] is worth it," Thiesen said. "Then we can get bigger boats in, and it will increase our property values. That's always a plus."

Pub Date: 12/15/96

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