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Mayor: 50/50 chance at landing grant for Bonita repairs

By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
April 7, 2004
While the water level at Bonita's lower lake remains low and weeds continue to grow where water used to flow, city crews are moving dirt in an effort to change the lake's look.
Mayor John Robert Smith said Tuesday the city was taking advantage of the low water to make the lower lake more "irregular in shape" instead of circular. Smith said the city will continue the work while officials await word later this month on the fate of a $400,000 request they made for a federal grant to repair a leaking dam.
The lake, a main attraction at Bonita Lakes Park, has become overgrown with patches of weeds since it was drained in 2002 to search for the leak. City officials initially announced a $500,000 federal grant would help fund the repairs.
But the state's Natural Resources Conservation Service, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the federal agency to which the money flows, turned down the Bonita grant and decided there was a greater need to repair one of the city's drainage canals Gallagher Creek because it directly affected property owners.
The city then decided to seek another grant to split the cost for the work. Part of $2.9 million the city borrowed for water and sewer repairs earlier this year would be used as a $400,000 match.
Smith said peninsulas will be created around the lake, allowing fishermen and the handicapped to get closer to the lake.
He said the changes will "improve that experience for all of our citizens at Bonita. We think it's going to be a much prettier lake when the water is restored to its full pool."