Oak Grove council split on support of treating Lake George for milfoil

Lake George in Oak Grove draws a lot of people to northern Anoka County.

Mike Wylie, an Oak Grove City Council member who lives on the shore, said at a March 25 meeting that the lake attracts 350,000 users each year.

When the council was asked to consider an annual contribution of $2,500 toward combating problems from Eurasian milfoil and other invasive species in the lake, Wylie spoke strongly in support.

“To me, Lake George is one of the crown jewels of our city, (let’s) keep it usable for everybody,” he said.

The request, from the Lake George Improvement District, was placed on the council’s consent agenda and thus primed for a rubber-stamp approval. The city had made a donation of $2,500 in 2012.

But Councilmember Scott Lawrence moved to pull the request from quick consent and allow for discussion of the item. He eventually voted against renewing the city’s contribution toward the lake treatment.

Many of the boaters on Lake George each year are not lake residents, but rather coming to the lake, county park and public access from unknown areas, Lawrence said.

“People that live on the lake generally are not transferring (the milfoil) into it,” he said.

And, as for the city’s other taxpayers not on Lake George, Lawrence said he does not feel they share the benefit with the lakeshore owners of having a clean lake.

“I just don’t believe in spreading that cost over everyone in the city, many who don’t use the lake at all,” he said.

Mayor Mark Korin and Lawrence’s other council colleagues all voted in favor of giving $2,500 from the public benefit fund.

Korin agreed with Wylie, who said that every lakeshore owner contributes $200 each year above their city taxes.

According to Korin, keeping a clean Lake George is truly of public benefit, just like using city dollars to fund the maintenance of city parks.

“For me, (this expense) is no different than cutting grass,” Korin said.

Lawrence said it seemed like the city was taking taxes from the non-lake residents and handing that money to those on Lake George.

Councilmember Dan Denno replied, “I wouldn’t say I’m giving them everyone else’s taxes. I’d say I’m giving a little of theirs back to them.”