Don't buy Olmstead hype

Kim Sidey’s Feb. 5 letter (“Dredging plans are unfair”) sounds like it was meant to pit one neighborhood against another while mixing in buzzwords such as “special interest” to stir the pot.


I have lived in the Kamell West subdivision, which fronts Hiers Pond, for 14 years, and have been monitoring the condition of the ponds since late 2008. I can speak for all of my neighbors when I say we take offense to Mr. Sidey accusing us of being anything other than concerned citizens. Hiers Pond is not a private lake, as it is owned by the city, so his facts should be questioned, realizing that he is simply trying to get a reaction by using the phrase “private lakes.” The city’s ponds are flooding hazards.

We voiced our concerns in January 2009 as our lakes began to deteriorate, and were told the project was on the books. It has taken four years to get to the point where permits have been submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to move forward. A report prepared by the Augusta Engineering Department in December 2008 titled “Sedimentation and Mitigation Plan for Lake Olmstead” rendered the following conclusion: “Before any remedial action is taken to remove sediment from Lake Olmstead, it is critical to understand the hydraulics, hydrology, and sediment transport mechanics within the entire Rae’s Creek Watershed. Without a systematic and systemic ‘whole watershed’ approach, any limited corrective measures taken with a narrow focus on only one lake in the system will only address localized symptoms of a larger problem and be ineffective in the long term.”

Again, Mr Sidey’s facts are incorrect. The decision was made in December 2008 that all of the Rae’s Creek Watershed be included in the project. It would make no sense to not clean out upstream and watch the lower lakes fill back up.

It is a shame that Lake Olmstead cannot be totally dredged, but it would cost $20 million, per Augusta Engineering Department estimates. The fact that this has been going on since 2008, and Lakemont decides to challenge the scope after the permits have been submitted, is comical.

This conspiracy theory by Mr. Sidey that funds were “redirected” for some “special interest” is not supported by any facts, and the only thing they will accomplish by blocking the application is that no work will be done, and we will start the process over again – likely with less money. We have to start somewhere, and a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Philip Lee



(The writer is president of the Kamell West Property Owners’Association.)

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