The Hot Springs Village Lakes Committee met at 8:30 AM on November 9, 2022, at the Coronado Community Center.
Board Member and Lakes Committee Liaison Bruce Caverly stopped in before the meeting started to let the committee know he had an engagement with the Board. Pookie Dixon (Concetta) was also absent.
Members in attendance were Steve FitzGerald (Chairman), Dwayne Shipman (Vice-chair), Russell Grimes, John Bowers, Ken Guzel, Clif Haygood, Lavon Winkler, and Carol Dyer.
The HSVPOA staff attending the meeting were Ken Unger, Director of Public Services; Todd Noles, Superintendent of Lakes; and Katy Harmon, Lakes Manager.
Lake Dredging Goals
Ken Unger, Director of Public Services said, “I don’t know if the expectations have ever really been set on what we are doing with lake dredging. We need to set expectations. Some people think we are taking all of the silt out of the lake. That is not what is going to happen.”
“Last year, we did not finish. Either the goals were clearly established, or there was trouble with the vendor,” explained Unger
“We have discussed what is important and why we are doing the lake dredging. Our primary goal in dredging is to make the coves navigable so people can access their docks. It is not to take out All of the sediment….” We cannot take out all the sediment. If we have time, we will go back into other areas. The primary focus is opening up each area where docks are restricted.”
Chair FitzGerald said the Lakes Committee could help publicize what the lakes dredging goals are. FitzGerald said, “we need to specify and set expectations early. The glaring thing that jumped out to me this year is we got a late start in publicizing the dredging of Lake Cortez.”
Unger asked the committee to come up with frequently asked questions to post on the Explore the Village website. Committee Member Lavon Winkler said this is “so needed.”
Silt and Dredging
The committee discussed the problem of silt and sediment migrating from upstream locations. Chair Steve FitzGerald said that “the bottom line is that every source of erosion or sediment buildup is not a solvable problem. But we can make strides to make it better.”
All necessary permits were received, and dredging of Lake Cortez has commenced since the date of this meeting.
The Arkansas Department of Energy and Environmental Quality (ADEQ) changed the dredging permitting system. Noles said, “anything removed from the lakes needs ADEQ approval. Previously we paid $200 to dredge a lake. One permit per lake was required, but now a permit for each cove you plan to dredge is needed. Any continuous work is considered to be one site, and only one permit is necessary. This year the permits to dredge Lake Cortez cost $2,200.”
There will be no actual hydraulic dredging on Cortez, even though it was called this in a previous article. The correct term is amphibious excavating.
This year’s amphibious excavating/dredging will begin at three coves on Lake Coronado. Once these coves are finished, the amphibious excavator contractor will move to Lake Cortez.
FitzGerald asked about the naming of the coves. We have also named the coves on Lake Balboa. “Is there value added in us as a committee taking on a common naming scheme?”
Unger, “We [POA] can’t use cove names.”
Vice-chair Shipman stated, “Many of the big lakes in Arkansas have named their coves by number.”
Noles explained, “we would rather use the street address. When dealing with government agencies, the lakes Management Department needs to provide the street address, but the naming of coves can be beneficial to groups such as the Balboa Yacht Club and Shoreliners.”
Invasive Mystery Snails
Due to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s recommendation, the Lakes Department stocked Lake Granada with 4,000 and Lake Estrella with 3,000 two to five-inch long Redear Sunfish on November 15, at a cost of $4,200. Redear Sunfish eat snails.
If caught by fishermen, Redear Sunfish should be released.
Noles is also adding a few brush piles to Lake Estrella to provide additional habitat for the smaller fish.
The POA recommends that humans do not eat the snails, as there is still testing going on.
Promotion of Katy Harmon
Harmon has been promoted to Lake Supervisor. Noles said, “this was well deserved. Katy is a great asset to the Lakes Management Team.”
Noles said, “the POA is now a place where if you do your job and do it well, you now have a possibility to move up within the company. Employee morale is up, and this policy entices staff to do a better job and to work harder to try to reach their goal.”
Harmon has a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice. She also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology with an emphasis on fisheries and other water-related topics. She completed two internships with Arkansas Game and Fish. Harmon has been with the HSVPOA for almost eight years. The POA was her first job after she graduated from college.
Noles reported that a beaver hut will be removed from Lake Balboa. A $200 permit is required for this activity. Currently, we have five active beavers, and a contracted beaver trapper is working to remove them.
Noles said, “Ken [Unger] is planning on installing check dams upstream to help with the worst erosion areas. I am currently working with the Corp of Engineers to find out what we can legally do to mitigate some of our erosion problems.”
Unger said we will look at erosion areas to install fabric to help in vegetation growth.
Committee Member Carol Dyer commented on erosion issues that are in utility company easements. She specifically mentioned the Lake DeSoto area. Noles said that he would contact the utility provider and start working on the issues.
An essential focus of the Lakes Committee is to perform semi-annual assessments of the lakes and make a consolidated report. All of the committee members present gave an update on the status of this project. The Lakes Department benefits from the assessments by having any safety or areas of concern noted so they can be addressed and corrected. To date, Lake(s) Segovia, Estrella, Pineda, Granada, Sophia, Maria, DeSoto, Coronado, Cortez, and Isabella have completed assessments.
The porta-potty category on the lake assessment should be removed. Audience member and Chair of the Architectural Control Committee said that porta-potties come under the bailiwick of the Parks and Recreation Department.
New Lakes Committee Website
Committee Member Ken Guzel has developed a new website for the Lakes Committee. Currently, the site is still under construction. This site will give the committee another vehicle for communication with Village residents. Guzel would like to use video, photos, etc., on the site. Stay tuned for more details.
FitzGerald said the committee needs to work closely with POA staff to ensure that the correct information is being published on the new website.
Buoy lights are not a POA responsibility. Some groups have installed these lights and are responsible for the maintenance. This activity should be approved by and coordinated with Lakes Management.
Dedicated Fish Habitats for Lakes
The committee plans to have a future discussion on fish habitats.
New Yard Debris Disposal Options
Unger discussed the New Yard Debris Disposal Options. Click here to read about this important topic.
The next Lakes Committee meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, December 14, at 8:30 AM at the Coronado Community Center.
Click here to email the Lakes Committee Chair, Steven FitzGerald.
CONTACT INFORMATION FOR PUBLIC SERVICES DIRECTOR
Director Public Services
Hot Springs Village
Report by Cheryl Dowden