KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – A tide of red shirted-residents dropped by city council’s meeting Monday and it wasn’t a flash mob. They praised the effects of the Black Creek Restoration project, which …
KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – A tide of red shirted-residents dropped by city council’s meeting Monday and it wasn’t a flash mob. They praised the effects of the Black Creek Restoration project, which takes water from the oft-flooded Black Creek and shifts it to depleted lakes like Lake Brooklyn.
Save Our Lakes Organization members and residents were out in full force. They told stories of how Lake Brooklyn was, how it weakened and how the lake improved immensely since the intervention from the St. Johns River Water Management District.
“This is the biggest thing. I’ve used this term before, and it’s backfired on me over the years, but this is the greatest thing since peanut butter,” said Save Our Lakes Organization President Vivian James. “It really is.”
Minimum Flow Levels are units used to describe the lowest level a lake can be. If the water is lower than that recommended level, the lake could be damaged. Lake Brooklyn was usually around 100 mfls in 2010, but that level dipped to about 80. The Black Creek Restoration Project has brought levels between 105-107 mfls, James said. Lake Geneva suffered a similar drop. Now its levels are in the high 90s.
Webb Farber is a Save Our Lakes Organization board member who’s lived on Lake Brooklyn for 35 years. He also said he visited friends on Lake Geneva several times. Farber called the lakes a vital natural resource and a “vacation from your troubles.”
“I remember the paradise Keystone Heights was with these beautiful lakes, when you drive into town, the first time you see the water, your blood pressure would drop,” Farber said. “It was just a very nice feeling. It is a showcase project for everyone involved. I think everyone can be proud.”
Christine Merriam is a newer arrival and about to be a great grandmother. She called living on the lake one of the happiest times of her life.
“I enjoy it. My grandson enjoys it,” Merriam said. “My hope is this project will keep it going for all of us in the future.”
Kinder Cannon said he had owned a home in Keystone for about 45 years. While he split time in Jacksonville, he called the restoration a benefit for everyone in the area.
“This project is a win-win-win, not only for the residents, but also to maintain the lakes and the economic viability of the city,” Cannon said.
In other business, city officials are reeling from more vandalism, this time to the bathrooms at Keystone Beach after a spate of vandalism involving Christmas decorations in December.
City Manager Scott Kornegay said the extent of the crime was large enough to be reported to a detective. A city post detailing the damage received a large outcry on Facebook last week.
“We closed the beach last week, (vandals) took down another light, they went inside the men’s restroom and ripped the lavatory off the wall,” Kornegay said.
Council Member Steve Brown recommended businesses install security cameras. Council Member Stephen Hart asked city staff to look into a citizen task force.
“It’s just more people keeping an eye on what’s going on,” Hart said. “Sooner or later, someone will see something.”
Kornegay said he would meet with Clay County Sheriff’s Office representatives later in the week. He said the other options included speaking at a Sheriff’s Neighborhood Engagement Team meeting, and begin outreach efforts with students.
Residents who see vandalism can report it to the Clay County Sheriff's Office at 352-473-7211 or 352-473-4807 for City Hall.