Lake Wanda remains split over dam repair

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:56

    VERNON-Residents of Lake Wanda remain split over whether or not to pursue a N.J. Department of Environmental Protection loan to repair the aging dam that is in dire need of updating. If the dam is not repaired, Lake Wanda will eventually have to be drained. The Vernon Township Council has agreed to co-sponsor a loan application, should the community decide to pursue it. On Monday, Kathleen Davis, attorney for the Lake Wanda Property Owner's Association, thanked the council for agreeing to be a co-applicant for a $450,000 loan from the DEP. The DEP, through the Dam Bond Act of 2003, requires that town councils act as co-applicants with lake associations in order to qualify for a two-percent interest loan 20 years. The town's involvement guarantees the loan, but, should the lake association default, taxpayers do not have to foot the bill. Rather, the town can assess members of the lake community to repay the loan. The president of the Lake Wanda Homeowners Association, Kathleen Agnelli, said "The lake improvements will benefit the whole community." That sentiment is disputed by a separate group of Lake Wanda homeowners who do not belong to the association and do not want to be assessed to repair the dam, even if that means draining the lake. Barbara Kliemisch, speaking on behalf of residents who are against the town co-applying for the loan, raised questions of financial liability. "We don't feel we should be obligated to pay," if the loan goes into default she said. Kliemisch said that more than 100 individuals are opposed to the project, and that the group has hired legal counsel and will take legal action should the town move forward with the application process.