Local News

Lake McCoy runoff project needs funding

LAKE PLACID - A proposed Lake McCoy runoff abatement project is in jeopardy due to a shortfall in funding.

A Southwest Florida Water Management District study showed that the lake's water quality has degraded. The water district offered a $127,500 grant toward a project to alleviate the runoff.

Also, the Highlands County Soil and Water Conservation District has earmarked $25,000 and the Town of Lake Placid has set aside $2,500 for the project, but a little more money is needed.

Lake Placid Councilwoman Debra Worley said Lake McCoy had been one of the cleanest lakes in Lake Placid, but runoff from businesses and the roadway is going into the lake because its entire west side is next to U.S. 27.

The proposed work to minimize the runoff includes the construction and installation of filtration, swales and drainage features.

The state is willing to maintain it, but the town needs the grant to get it fixed, Worley said.

"At the last minute we found out that we have a $17,500 shortfall and we are trying to find that money," she said. "The town did give $2,500 that means we need $15,000."

Worley said she would hate to lose the $170,000 project due to the shortfall.

The lake is located on the south end of Lake Placid just east of U.S. 27. Only the north side of the lake is within the town limits.

Worley noted that the Tourist Development Commission can't help because the lake does not have public access.

The town sent letters to the lake's property owners informing them of tonight's meeting of the Lake Placid Watershed Advisory Board at 6 p.m. in the Town Council Chambers. The Lake McCoy Watershed project is the only topic for discussion on the meeting's agenda.

Worley noted that there are 30 condominiums on the north side of the lake, The Terraces on Lake McCoy, and six townhouses on the south side of the lake.

At its Monday meeting, the town council discussed whether or not it would provide funding toward the Lake McCoy project.

Some council members questioned whether taxpayer money should be spent on the project when only part of the lake is within the town limits.

Highlands County Lakes Association President John Ruggiero asked the council for support.

"Where would we be without our lakes?" he asked. "If we let Lake McCoy die and we just finished Lake Clay and we are getting ready to start a project on Lake June and another project on Lake Placid.

"Our county would die without our lakes. We are a waterfront community."

It will cost a lot more down the road to fix the lakes, Ruggiero said.

The town council split its vote 2-2 on contributing $2,500 to the project.

Worley and Mike Waldron supported the funding while Ray Royce and Steve Bastardi voted against it.

Mayor John Holbrook broke the tie with a "yes" vote. He stressed that the $2,500 would be "set aside" for when the project comes to fruition.

Worley spoke to some of the residents on the Lake Wednesday to make sure they received the notice about tonight's watershed meeting.

She's not sure where the needed $15,000 will come from.

"We have until April to try and get this together," Worley added.