The city of Madison has withdrawn a permit application with the state Department of Natural Resources for a shoreline restoration project at Olbrich Park, after the DNR insisted on changes the city deemed unacceptable. The irony is that the shoreline will remain in an environmentally degraded state.
'They wanted us to reduce the amount of access points and width of access points,' says city engineer Larry Nelson. And city officials worried that erosion from high water ' which is what caused the degradation at Olbrich ' would in short order mess things up again.
'If we can't put in a shoreline erosion structure that's going to handle the high water, then there's not much point in putting it in,' says Nelson.
The proposed Olbrich shoreland restoration has been in the works for several years. The city's 2007 budget includes $250,000 for the project, which would have been done this winter.
But the DNR, in a letter last month (for this and the city's reply, click HERE) balked, in part because the beach itself lacks a permit. 'They're saying the beach is an illegal beach,' says Mike Dailey of city engineering. 'That's probably true of every beach in the city.'
The DNR also wanted design changes, suggesting the beach at Lake Kegonsa as an example of what it had in mind. City officials visited there last week, found a cracked wall and eroded beach, and concluded that the seawall has failed after just three years. And city park officials felt such a structure would pose a safety hazard, especially to young children.
'Toddlers are prone to tipping over,' notes city parks superintendent Jim Morgan, explaining that the seawall created a drop-off from wave action. 'We don't want to agree to something that's going to create a problem down the line.' And so the city tossed in the towel, pending further discussions with the DNR.
Madison lakes have reached 100-year-flood levels three times in the last decade ' in 1993, 1996 and 2000. Among other things, these higher levels are washing away parts of Cherokee Marsh. This is due in part to keeping lake levels artificially high for boaters and recreation.
'The Olbrich thing is just part of a much bigger issue,' says Nelson. 'This is something the community is going to have to come to grips with.'