• Last modified 52 days ago (May 29, 2024)


Lake roads

To the editor:

Last week, Mr. Wyatt wrote a letter about county lake roads. As Paul Harvey used to say, this is “the rest of the story.”

I was head of the county road and bridge department from 1972 to 1976. For a while I worked under Lysle Russell, who was assistant county engineer and later county engineer from the 1930s to 1972.

Lysle worked for Jimmy Meisner, who was county engineer from the 1930s to the 1960s.

I am writing this letter from memory, but I think my facts are fairly accurate.

Lysle and Jimmy were surveyors and I believe did all the subdivision plats at the lake.

Lysle was certain that there was never any intent for most of the lake roads to be maintained by the county.

The minimum width of a county road has been 40 feet since 1864. Most of the roads at the lake vary in width from 25 feet to 15 feet.

The developer-owner did not want to dedicate the required 40 feet and improve the road to county standards.

The developers were cheap and wanted a maximum number of lots with a minimal amount of expense. That worked well at first.

Most of the lots were sold for weekend or occasionally occupied cabins.

Originally, cabins had no running water and used an outhouse. Later, people started drilling wells and installing septic tanks. Now there is public water and sewer, and most of the original cabins have been replaced or have extensive additions suitable for full time occupation.

But the roads are the same.

Normally a road must be dedicated and officially accepted by the governing body.

I don’t believe there are any plats at the lake where the owner dedicated the roads and the county commissioners’ signoff included a statement that the roads were accepted.

Each road has its own specific history and facts, and perhaps some of the lake roads should be maintained by the county.

Certainly, through prescription, the roads can be used by the public. However, that is a separate issue from the county being required to maintain the road.

The issue for the county is bigger than a few loads of rock.

The county is legally obligated to make its roads reasonably safe for use by the public.

That is almost an impossible task for many of the one-lane roads and narrow rights-of-way at the lake.

Norm Bowers

Last modified May 29, 2024