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Little movement in Lake Alice saga
Sanders Road still closed, cove murky
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Forsyth County News

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The family’s plan is available at:



The following is a timeline of events in the Lake Alice dam breach.



* May 19: Lake Alice dam collapses, sending floods of water into a Lake Lanier cove and damaging Sanders Road, which was closed for repairs.

* May 29: EPD and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tour damage.

* June 3: First meeting between EPD, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, family and city of Cumming to iron out initial response.

* June 5: City hydroseeds, or sprays mixture of fertilizer, grass seed and mulch into Lake Alice, with hopes vegetation will slow erosion.

* June 10: Sanders Road is closed a second time and has not been reopened since.

* June 17: Mashburn family installs turbidity curtain to trap sediment.

* June 23: Mashburn family installs two backup turbidity curtains as a safety precaution after first one blows out.

* Sept. 18: City and Mashburn family sign agreement sharing responsibility, which is sent to EPD for approval, giving both sides 60 days to agree to a plan.

* Nov. 19: Mashburn family submits ante-litem notice to city for negligence.

* Dec. 4: City and Mashburn family agree to remediation plan, which is submitted to the EPD.



* Feb. 5: Public hearing was held at Cumming City Hall, where a general plan involving a weir was presented.

* March 18: After some back-and-forth, the city agrees to enter mediation with Forsyth County over Sanders Road repairs.

* March 24: Mashburn family filed answer, counterclaims and motion to dismiss suit by cove resident Gregory Scott Lindy.

* May 2: EPD gives permission to act on remediation plan.

* May 9: Hearing in which judge grants to permission to Sembler to delay weir structure to conduct research until May 30.

* Today: Deadline for Sembler to finish its research before Mashburn family begins weir work.


Source: FCN archives

CUMMING — Monday marked the one-year anniversary of the Lake Alice dam breach.

And while the parties involved in the efforts to repair, restore and rebuild the damaged area find themselves in court — a hearing on one of the issues stretched into Thursday afternoon — the frustration of those impacted on a daily basis continues to mount.

According to Mike Leahy, not enough has happened in the 12 months since torrents of water flowed from Lake Alice into a cove of nearby Lake Lanier on which he lives.

In addition to the murky water, Sanders Road has remained closed between Buford Dam and Mary Alice Park roads, a heavily wooded residential area east of Cumming.

The city of Cumming tried to add some vegetation to prevent silt from entering the cove and the family installed two turbidity curtains to slow the flow of sediment.

With one curtain pulled under water by heavy rains, however, Leahy said any improvements are negligible.

“At this point, it’s been a year and nothing has been done,” he said. “Every time it rains, I look out and the cove continues to turn to pumpkin soup and it looks horrible.”

While Leahy hasn’t taken legal action regarding the breach, another cove resident, Gregory Scott Lindy, has. That’s started a trickle-down effect of legal responses and questions of liability.

The Mashburn Family Trust, which owned the dam, was named as one of the defendants in the suit.

In addition to a motion to dismiss, the family has filed cross-claims against the city, the Sembler Family Partnership and more than 20 other entities for their contribution to the dam’s failure, said family attorney Michael Carvalho.

Sembler developed Cumming Town Center on Market Place Boulevard, which runs alongside the western edge of the former Lake Alice.

The family has also sent an ante-litem notice to Forsyth County’s government to claim the same $1 million in damages Lindy is seeking.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the county has received the notice and is “considering what, if any response will be given.”

The city and Mashburn family presented the agreed upon remediation plan to the public during a hearing in February.

Based on that plan, the family agreed to first build a weir structure to effectively block sediment from flowing from Lake Alice’s bed into the cove.

A weir is a barrier that forms an obstruction smaller than most dams, pooling water behind it while also allowing it to flow steadily over the top.

Once the sediment is stopped, the plans calls for the city to dredge and clean the sediment that’s collected in the cove over the past year.

The family’s contractors were set to begin work on the weir about six weeks ago. That was before, however, a notice was provided to parties involved in the litigation.

“Sembler filed a temporary restraining order prohibiting us from doing anything to the dam,” Carvalho said. “They wanted one to two weeks to come in and do some inspections of their own.”

According to Carvalho, the family agreed, but Sembler then requested a court hearing. As a result of that May 9 hearing, the judge gave Sembler until the end of the month to complete its investigation.

At that point, Carvalho said, the family’s contractor plans to begin work, submitting a final plan to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division.

Construction, which should take about a month, can’t begin until the plan and permits are approved.

 “Time is of the essence,” Carvalho said. “This thing needs to be stabilized ... and that’s what we propose to do.”