Lake Mary Dam

Lake Mary Dam

July 13, 2002 was a red-letter day for the riparians (owners of property bordering the water) of Hamilton Lakes. The occasion was the dedication of the Lake Mary Dam located on the southeast corner of Lake Mary. The dam, often referred to as a spillway, had recently been erected through the efforts of Kiser Johnson of Norway and Cayemberg Construction. The Michigan DNR, County of Dickinson, and Townships of Waucedah and Norway shared financial support covering engineering and design, permits, removal of existing spillway, and construction of the new dam.

Dedication Program

Joining the Board of Directors of the Hamilton Lakes Association for the dedication were representatives from Dickinson County (William Marchetti, Administrator; Board Members John Degenaer, Tom Clark, Henry Wender, Joe Stevens, and Frank Smith). Waucedah Township was represented by Richard Bedard, John King, Judy Dapoz, Ted Testolin and Pat Wall. Norway Township was represented by Len Bal Sr, Veronica Gunville, Teresa Hammill, Beatrice Zychowski, and Adolph Rossato. Father Bill Callari of St. Barbara's in Vulcan requested to add a blessing - which he elegantly preformed.
Tours and refreshments followed a short program. Board members who pursued the planning and construction were past president John Bannes, President Bill Van Wolvelaere, VP Barb VanDenEden, Jack Bronzyk, Dennis Meneghini, Emil Orn, Marge Haelterman, Janet Stewart, Bob Wurzer and Richard Bryson.

An Overdue Improvement

In the summer of 1990, Hamilton Lakes residents assembled in the garage of Danny’s Market in Loretto. The discussions that followed led to the formation of the Hamilton Lakes Association. The new organization was chartered as a Michigan non-profit corporation under the direction of the nine member board of directors. John Bannes was elected its first president.
Following the wishes of the membership, projects and problems were prioritized. The number one issue at the time was the lake level. Rain or shine each summer problem reappeared; water levels in the lakes and channels would drop below safe levels to support navigation and boat storage. The problem was the aging Lake Mary Dam (spillway) that emptied Lake Mary into Hamilton Creek. This was not a new problem, previously addressed by local citizens and the first lake association; however, circumstances at this time were drastically different.
The structure of the dam was failing, and band-aid remedies were doing little to correct the excess loss of water. furthermore, the dam was now under the control of the Michigan DNR, the previous owner had defaulted on taxes. The property was offered for a conditional sale to anyone who would assume liability and rebuild the dam following DNR guidelines. There were no buyers. Your Lakes Association, Hamilton Lake Association, involved the State of Michigan, county, townships, politicians, and the press and finally, after a decade of maneuvering and agreement was reached and in 2003 a new DNR approved dam was engineered and built at no cost to the local taxpayers. Waucedah Township agreed to be the owner of this property and is responsible for its maintenance.
And now and for the past 20 plus years, an engineered dam of 120 linear feet controls the water level that was approved by the majority of the riparians of our chain of three lakes.