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Midland and Gladwin Counties approve lakes plan

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A significant step was taken Tuesday to restore the four lakes lost in the catastrophic dam failure in Midland County more than two years ago.

MIDLAND, Mich. (WJRT) - A significant step was taken Tuesday to restore the four lakes lost in the catastrophic dam failure in Midland County more than two years ago.

A special assessment district was approved to help finance a restoration plan. This special assessment district was unanimously approved by the Midland and County County board of commissioners, and while most people who spoke supported the plan, there were others who don't believe its fair.

<(woman)12:22:50 "I can't imagine life without water again., this is why I am thankful for all of you up here," said one resident. 

A majority of the people who spoke at Tuesday's meeting at Meridian High School in Sanford supported the Four Lakes Task Force's estimate that it will cost about 250 million dollars for restoration of the dams and lakes.

They also agreed with the special assessment district proposal, where property owners on the lakes and property owners who have legal access to the lakes will have to pay $180 each year.

 "I do have properties that are lake front so I got two assessments on my back, but I am willing to pay that to get the lake back," said another resident. 

Others were not as agreeable, claiming a lack of transparency from the Four Lakes Task Force, the delegated authority that now oversees the dams.

"When we restore America, we will get justice and we are going to remember who voted and how you voted today and we are going to hold you accountable," said a woman resident. 

 "The state should pay the whole bill not just the property owners," said another. 

Of the $250 million, Gladwin and Midland counties could pay about $60 million and state grants would pay the difference. In the end, the two county boards for unanimously to approve the special assessment district and the $250 million plan to restore the lakes.

"The next thing is we go out and seek bids for the rebuilding of Smallwood and Secord Dams, we will be doing that bidding process this fall, selecting contractors and hopefully starting construction this winter," said Dave Rothman, Four Lakes Task Force. 

The $180 assessment will be for 2022 through 2024 to maintain the lakes or at least the drained areas where water once stood.

Anchor/Reporter

Terry Camp anchors ABC12 News First at Four and ABC12 News at 5:30. He also reports on issues in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

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