I was saddened to read your article of May 4th, “Gardner discusses water rate increase, Gardner Lake.” I knew that the City of Gardner lacked appreciation for Gardner Lake, and considered it a burden, but I had no idea the depth of the council’s distain. Was the remark about draining the lake serious?
Councilman Baldwin’s perception that, “It really is a private lake for a thousand people,” is totally misguided. We welcome (and clean up after) thousands of non-resident fishermen, kayakers, sailors and boaters every year. That’s why the City of Gardner receives a generous lease payment from the State of Kansas for the water rights. If the citizens of Gardner are not utilizing this asset, it is certainly not the fault of the residents.
In the 1930’s the Gardner Lake Corporation, a group of Gardner leaders, overcame insurmountable odds to create the most beautiful spot in Johnson County. Their legacy included picturesque furnished parks, tourist cabins, boat rentals, a tackle and bait concession and the iconic bathing beach. The Gardner Lake Resort, as it was known, was profitable according to the city’s treasurer’s reports. Through the years, the city sold off those assets, piecemeal, for a fraction of their value. The lake is now a burden because former administrations lacked the foresight those original GLC members had.
As a resident of the lake, and the president of the Gardner Lake Association, I can speak for the majority when I say that we would be willing to participate in the maintenance of our lake assets and would like to open that conversation with the city. We are also exploring options for incorporation or voluntary annexation into a larger community. We are not expecting a free ride. I would welcome that conversation at the council’s convenience.
I had the pleasure of meeting Steve Shute when he appeared at our GLA meeting several years ago. I fully understood him when he said that Gardner’s first obligation is to Gardner’s citizens.
I feel the same about the lake residents.
Amy Heaven, President
Gardner Lake Association