by Sherry Lynn Gros
Again we face another lake drain by unauthorized and unlicensed actors (the same as 2019 wih one or two added) and who are being allowed to chop down the dam without professional or government oversight. On Thursday, Civil Engineers from Semmes Alabama did an inspection of the dam and stated, “The concrete has failed. Patches will not fix this dam. It is a public safety hazard.” They will have a report to old sherry gros in about two weeks. We are embroiled in a two year court battle. The Court enjoined the defendants from doing anything on the dam since Feb. 2021. Within hours of Plaintiff filing a motion to mediate on June 24, 2021 the dam was breached in a rectangular square at the face of the dam and has been laid to waste. The defendants appealed to the court to drain the lake. They asked to drain the lake and pour cement into the breach. I objected saying this was an engineering decision. The Court allowed them to drain the lake to the level of the leak which appeared to be 2 inches. They dropped it 1 – 2 feet. The breach got bigger immediately. The standpipe appears to still be open and the defendants have set up a dinghy and spread concrete on the spillway at their camp on the dam. It seems we are helpless to stop them.
The HPca has been pressed hard from an adversarial element, crippling this corporation to properly function on behalf of Optimist. HPca has been completely blocked and overrun rendering it unable to function effectively upon the lands which it was deeded in April 1967. Therefore, it is time for eyes and minds to look to some different options. The way this would work is : 1) Identify the options, 2) Discuss them at a public meeting, 3) Assign exploratory groups to come up with the advantages and didsadvanges of their given option 4) Hold another public meeting to hear exploratory group findings, 5) Have active members and stakeholders vote on their option of choice 6) Take those votes to the HPca Board of Directors for consideration and a vote. 7) HPca reports to members and stakeholders of the decision.
This is the way it is supposed to work. But for some reason it is not. The government authorities that do have some say or could help have remained obviously and glaringly silent on the matter of Optimist. Are they waiting for the total collapse of the dam, the moral decay of the neighborhoods to due infighting over this issue, and then like the Mobile Mardis Gras clean up crew sweep in within moments and miraculously reclaim two weeks mess in two hours to the city dump. We’ve been fighting two years to clean up this mess so it might take government authorities only two weeks to nail down the demons of Optimist Lake Reservoir. There is a 666′ right of way across that dam so sometimes I wonder if there isn’t a demonic influence over that area.
Basically, there are four categories of what might be done: sell, partner, pay, status quo. Here are some options: 1. Condemn the land, Owner HPca relinquish (dissolve) all authority and let the state manage it, or 2. Owner make it a conservation easement and work hand in hand with an environmental agency for oversight, or 3. Judge put HPca into receivership putting the corporation in the hands of a real estate agent or “like” where someone (TBD) would pay a fee to manage the corporation and its assets. 4. Allow it to be taken through emminent domain for a developer, private company or whoever buys it to maintain. 5. Status Quo means old sherry gros keeps fighting for HPca to keep the nonprofit alive and work on grants to rehabilitate the dam. She has been enjoined from submitting 2 – 3 million dollars in elegible grant monies that would rehab or completely replace the dam but the grants have now expired. So, these are some options. Everyone that has had any opinion on this matter need to have some discussions now because active members and stakeholders are going to be asked their opinion at a public meeting or poll. You might want to be prepared. I’ll be posting on www.highlandparkcommunityassociation.com I’ll leave this article open for comments. What do you think? Video captured 07/09/2021