Dear Waterfront Homeowner,
We are writing today for two reasons: First, to provide an update on the effort to create the Geist Reservoir Conservancy District (GRCD) and changes to the proposed district, and, second, to ask you, as a result of those changes, to once again, sign a new petition in support of creating the GRCD.
Background on the Geist Lake Coalition
If you’ll indulge us for a minute, we would like to provide some background regarding Geist Reservoir and our conservation efforts. We began this journey in 2013, when the algae and duckweed in the reservoir was so bad it appeared you could walk across the water. We had been researching lake management for years, but until then, there was not a lot of community awareness of the issues and certainly not a groundswell of support to address the problems.
But that year was different. That was the year that decades of neglect showed up all at once. The sediment infill, the nitrogen, the phosphorus, and a hot summer all formed the perfect storm.
The community, however, quickly responded. Hundreds and hundreds of homeowners attended informational sessions. We engaged experts and learned the hard truth that this is a man-made reservoir and, like all man-made things, it needs to be maintained. We hear a lot of talk in the press about our nation’s aging infrastructure, and this is a prime example of it right here in our collective backyard.
Owners quickly raised well over $500,000 that year, and we started a weed treatment program.
Prior Conservation District and Legislative Efforts
At the same time, we began the arduous task of thinking about more permanent solutions, which led us, again and again, to the idea of a conservancy district. You can read all about “why a conservancy district” at https://geistconservancy.com/, so we won’t go into all of that here….
As we started, we sought input from many folks, some of whom were active in local politics or in various homeowners’ associations. We considered questions such as “how large should the CD be?” and “who benefits from having a healthy reservoir? Only lakefront owners? Properties within a certain number of lineal feet? All of Lawrence & Fall Creek Townships?” We listened to a wide variety of opinions on the subject and ultimately decided that we would create one with all homeowners in “affected neighborhoods.” Again, we won’t go into the pros and cons of that decision here, as you are free to read hundreds if not thousands of social media posts from people on all sides of this issue.
We gathered the requisite signatures and attempted to do the “right thing” by involving Citizens and Marina Limited Partners and addressing the issues unique to Geist at the Indiana legislature. These efforts occurred over two separate legislative sessions and we learned a lot about the legislative process in Indiana!
Because we modified the statute, Judge Najjar ultimately nullified the voices of over 1,400 area homeowners who had supported the petition. We took a break and started again . . . in a pandemic. What we found is that the more we pressed, the louder the minority opposition complained.
Finally, and you could argue we should have learned this earlier, we concluded that while we can win the battle and file the petition with the required signatures, we might just lose the war. What does that mean? It means we can get the GRCD formed in its contemplated state (both on and off water homes) and then possibly have the entire effort undone by off-the-water homeowners who have no interest in the GRCD, much less fixing the lake, improving it, etc.
New Lakefront Conservancy District
So, we are making what we sincerely hope to be the final pivot—to a lakefront only CD. We feel that the interests of this group, while not perfectly aligned, will be far better aligned around a common goal of improving the reservoir, that the new organization will possess the badly needed ability to speak with one voice (and that voice will be far less fractured), and that it will have a much higher degree of success in improving the lake as it won’t be distracted by infighting with a group of off-the-water owners who have no interest in the reservoir and see no value in maintaining it.
We’ve updated our frequently asked questions on our website here to answer what we think are the most common questions about the lakefront GRCD: https://geistconservancy.com/faqs/
We’ve also included a map of the new GRCD as well as the voting areas. We will still have a nine-member board that will be elected by the owners in the GRCD.
We are hopeful that this will also greatly streamline the process for creating the CD, as support for the GRCD is very strong among waterfront owners.
How Can You Help?
We are aiming to file the petition for a lakefront only GRCD this year, with the goal to have the GRCD fully formed before the end of 2023. To that end, we are asking for your signature in support of the petition and asking for you to sign the enclosed petition and send it back to us by whichever means is most convenient for you, no later than October 15, 2022.
Mail it: Geist Lake Coalition, PO Box 103, Fishers, IN 46038
Scan and Email it: email@example.com
Thanks for your support.