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New London Council seeks erosion assistance from ski team

New London's mayor is asking the Little Crow Ski Team to contribute money and labor toward an effort to reduce shoreline erosion in the area of Neer Park. Tribune photoby Gary Miller

NEW LONDON -- The Little Crow Ski Team is being asked to provide some cash and labor to help reduce shoreline erosion where the team practices and performs its summertime shows.

If nothing is done to stop the erosion on the Middle Fork of the Crow River at New London's Neer Park, then the team's practice times may have to be reduced, said Mayor Bill Gossman.

"We wouldn't want to cancel the whole show," he said.

The city is being considered for a grant from the Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District that would use the Neer Park shoreline as a pilot project to test a variety of erosion-control measures.

The city would be required to provide a $10,000 match.

Gossman said it's hoped that the ski team, the city, Kandiyohi County and the Soil and Water Conservation District could split the $10,000. He said labor from ski team members to help install the systems would also be appreciated.

"We're interested in hearing how much the ski team is willing to pitch in," Gossman Wednesday said during the council's meeting.

Mark Johnson, a representative for the ski team, asked if there would be a fair tradeoff for a contribution. If the team provides money and labor, would that mean the city would not reduce the team's practice times on the water, he asked.

If the city puts more limitations on the ski team's practice times, Johnson said the team's contributions would also likely be reduced.

Gossman said it was hoped that the shoreline and the team's use of the area could be maintained so that no changes would have to be made to their practice and show schedule.

"We're trying to preserve a place for you to practice and perform," Gossman said.

The pilot project would be conducted by the University of Minnesota Extension Service. Four or five different techniques would be used on the shoreline to test the effectiveness against wave action, some of which is caused by speed boats used by the ski team.

Gossman said bio-logs that were placed along the shoreline in previous attempts to maintain shoreline integrity have not been effective.

Photos of the shoreline spanning several years show continued and worsening degradation, Gossman said. "It's getting really bad, especially on the beach side."

Johnson disputed Gossman's claim that "most" of the erosion was being caused by the ski team. Johnson said he lives on Elkhorn Lake, where the ski team does not practice, and high water is causing similar erosion there.

He said he would take the information back to the team's board of directors and would bring a response back to the council.

In other action:

- Six people attended the city's board of equalization to ask that their property values be lowered. The values on four of the homes in question were already less than last year and the council declined to decrease them further. The council also rejected another request by a couple. County Assessor Tim Falkum said the value of their property was already less than what they paid for it in September.

- The council agreed to initiate action to seek grants and low-interest loans from U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development for proposed water and sewer improvement projects in the city. Engineer Chuck DeWolf will meet with Rural Development to determine the city's eligibility for funding.

- The council heard from Steve Nelson, a rural New London resident, about the availability of grants that could help the city recruit businesses in the bio-energy sector. He said New London has a lot to offer businesses and could market itself as an energy community. Nelson is a member of the Clean Energy Resource Teams that presented a $10,000 grant to New London on Thursday to insulate the Little Theater. He said other larger grants are available from different entities that New London should seek to be become competitive in the energy market.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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