Follow along as we chronicle the steps that Burlington has taken so far while confronting the dilemma of either investing millions to save Echo Lake or dismantling the dam and watching the lake vanish into the pages of history.
(13) updates to this series since
Burlington taxpayers may face a tough decision soon on whether to pay for improvements to Echo Lake or remove a substandard dam and watch the lake vanish forever down the White River.
Consultants were expected to report on the cost of rebuilding the dam at Echo Lake in Burlington. Instead, they are reporting that the dam cannot be salvaged and improved as needed to meet state flood-protection standards.
From early industrial growth in the 19th century to a distressed environmental site today, Burlington's beloved Echo Lake has marked time by serving many purposes in the Racine County community.
It would be easy in this space to tell Burlington leaders to do whatever they can to save Echo Lake, the 70-acre body of water that provides an oasis of nature in the heart of the city.
Burlington city officials plan a Nov. 16 release for a study showing whether Echo Lake can be saved through upgrades to an aging dam system, or whether the dam must be removed, allowing the lake to drain and vanish into the history books.
Months before Burlington decides what to do about Echo Lake, residents of a community about 30 miles away in Waukesha County are reflecting on a decision to drain a popular recreational pond that had stood for decades. Doing so allowed a river to flow naturally again, but also may have allowed nearby property values to plummet.
Saving the beloved but troubled Echo Lake could cost more than $5 million, while draining the lake and allowing the White River to flow free could be accomplished for about $1 million, the city's engineers have found.
Getting rid of Echo Lake wouldn't eliminate the waterfront amenities Burlington currently has. Among ideas proposed in a new report are a White River pedestrian bridge and fishing docks. City Council debate is to begin Tuesday.
Burlington city officials review new details of Echo Lake options, including a retaining wall that would extend into nearby Veterans Park if the city wants to save the lake.
In a growing debate surrounding the future of Echo Lake in Burlington, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a local Republican, said he may lobby regulators at the state Department of Natural Resources to save the troubled lake.
A Burlington city official cautions that a "tsunami" flood could occur if the Echo Lake dam fails as the city holds a community meeting to gauge sentiment from a divided public on spending $5 million to modernize the dam and lake.
In a community where taxpayers have not always welcomed major public improvement projects, Burlington city officials say that saving Echo Lake could cost the average homeowner more than $1,300 in tax increases.
With a decision approaching on the controversial Echo Lake issue, a member of the Burlington Park Board has resigned and cleared the way for a new appointee to be seated one week before deliberations begin.