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Long Lake plan wins support

It looks like Long Lake’s new restoration plan is a go.

Ken Spohn, president of Citizens for the Improvement of Long Lake, was worried people would be suspicious and unsupportive when he announced CILL had dumped the lake restoration plan they had all voted for last summer and now wanted the lake residents to get behind a brand-new project.

However, not only did the 50-odd area residents who showed up to last Thursday’s lake open house vote unanimously in favor of the new plan, they said they’d even help pay for it.

Nearly four-fifths of the voters said they’d pay $300 a year or more — the largest amount Spohn asked for — to help Long Lake.

“(It went) unbelievably well,” Spohn said. “I was surprised.”

CILL’s old plan, which centered on a international waterway restoration company called Clear-Flo, tanked last fall when it became clear the association would have to commit too much money up-front with no guarantees the technology would even work on Long Lake.

The new plan, which was formulated with help from a local company called Tetra Tech, involves less costly machinery and focuses more on smart application of commonly-used waster management chemicals.

Tetra Tech’s solution uses a combination of alum — which removes phosphorus — and narrow-band herbicides to reduce the buildup of algae and invasive water plants.

Long Lake gets closed by the Kitsap County Health Department every year as a result of algae blooms, which can often be toxic.

Lake plants have also taken over boating lanes, making it hazardous for water skiers and other sports enthusiasts to use the lake, even when its open.

The whole project is proposed to cover 10 years but would involve only one application of alum, right at the very start. The rest of the time would be spent monitoring the lake and making treatment adjustments as necessary.

“It’s a very productive lake; it’s a very dynamic lake,” said Dr. Somebody Givens, who oversaw the plan’s development. “You have to find a balance.”

The project is estimated to cost $600,000, although that number could change depending on which company gets the bid. Spohn has proposed setting up a self-taxing lake improvement district to help fund the plan — nearly 300 homes or properties abut the lake and even more could be included depending on how broadly the district’s boundaries were drawn.

In addition, Sen. Bob Oke, R-Port Orchard, has offered to go after some state monies when the budget is negotiated next year. Oke attended the open house and said if Spohn can gain the support of the residents and the approval of the state Department of Fisheries and the state Department of Ecology before then, then he has a good shot at getting something from the state’s coffers. Oke recommended starting off with a petition that demonstrated the backing of at least two-thirds, but ideally three-fourths, of affected residents.

“It’s got to start here in this room,” he said. “You’ve got to get a majority of the community convinced this is what you’ve got to do.”

Most who attended the meeting didn’t need further convincing. Although several attendees asked questions about the project, the improvement district and Oke’s plans to secure funding, nearly everyone seemed to think a few hundred bucks a month was well-worth having a usable lake again.

“$300 a year? Our property values will go up more than $300 a year if that lake gets cleaned up,” said resident Naomi Polen, who’s currently in the process of building on lakefront property.

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