(9/20) Several Carroll Valley Borough, lake-side property owners spent over an hour and fifteen at the September 12 borough meeting expressing their dissatisfaction with a water use contract creation process.
The borough Council unanimously approved a contract and license with Liberty Resort (which includes Ski Liberty) at their July 10 meeting paving the way for Ski Liberty to draw water from Lake May.
Ski Liberty initially approached Carroll Valley Borough representatives around 2009 seeking to use water from Lake May for the purposes of adding to their overall available water supplies in order to manufacture snow during ski season.
Within the same time-frame, Carroll Valley Borough was confronted with potentially staggering costs to repair an approximately $30,000 to $50,000 worth of damages to an area of the Lake May dam caused by Toms Creek’s erosion of impoundment embankments.
As a result of the agreement approved by council July 10, Liberty Resort agreed to address the costs and repairs of the embankment and dam on a continuing, long-term basis, and to pay the borough $25,000 a year (plus inflation), in exchange for a limited withdrawal of water from the lake.
However, several lake side property owners stated at the September 12 meeting they were not kept sufficiently informed of the multi-year process that ultimately produced the draft contract and license.
There are eight properties and six owners of those property adjoining the lake, of which the borough is one. Ski Liberty owns two of the properties.
Meg Cliber, one of the Lake May property owners, said, "We have no issues with Ski Liberty. Our biggest concern is we knew nothing about it (the drafting of an agreement). We tried to seek information. We were not given information."
However, efforts were made to bring the lake-side property owners into the process as early as 2009, according to borough officials, and the potentially affected residents showed little interest.
"The borough feels there was an effort to reach out to the residents and they were not interested, and they even went so far as to say that nothing could change in the details (of the proposal) that would make them say they would work with the borough," Town Manager David A. Hazlett stated subsequent to the meeting.
While the agreement stands as approved and signed, the borough did propose to establish a subcommittee ("Lake May Advisory Group") of the borough Parks and Recreation Committee which would allow lake-side property owners and others to monitor the execution of the agreement with Liberty resort.
"At the same time," Hazlett stated, "we feel it (the sub-committee) is giving them a singular voice to the counsel. It gets them involved (in monitoring the terms of the agreement)."
Regarding the execution of the agreement, Eric Flynn, general manager, Liberty Resort, said, "We’re committed to go about this in a very responsible way. We don’t want to disrupt the quality of life (of those adjoining the lake)."
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