Albert Lea Lakes Foundation Plans to Host Annual Public Forum and Educational Sessions

The Albert Lea Lakes Foundation will host an annual public forum along with three educational sessions during the fall of 2016. The annual public forums will provide an opportunity for the public to learn more about the conservation and restoration programs occurring in the county between the Shell Rock River Watershed Board, the Albert Lea City Council and Freeborn County Board of Commisioners.

“The Lakes Foundation will host three different educational sessions this coming fall to share information about the progress and use of the half-cent sales tax that is collected for use by the Shell Rock River Watershed District,” said Foundation President Laura Lunde. “In addition, we will host an annual public forum in the spring of each year going forward. The watershed has a great story to share and we are so excited to help them share it and provide an additional opportunity for citizens to become involved.”

The annual public forum will provide the Watershed District Board of managers and staff 45 minutes to share an update on the progress from the previous year and look at the next few years. The city council and county commissioners will be invited and will have time specifically reserved for them to ask questions in a public setting. Thirty minutes will be reserved for members of the public to ask questions. The events will be open to the media as well as recorded and posted online for the public to view that cannot attend. The annual public forum will be held each year the sales tax is in effect.

“After hearing from the public, comments from the city councilors, and frustration about lack of communication between the boards, we felt this was a way we could try to open up more dialogue between all the groups to provide additional transparency and accountability. This should help build collaboration,” said Susie Petersen, volunteer for the Lakes Foundation.

Dates for each of the three educational forums haven’t been finalized yet, but the goal is for one event to be held in the evening, one on a Saturday morning and one on a Sunday afternoon to allow the most people possible to attend.

“The city council has brought up important issues regarding the extension of the half-cent sales tax resolution,” said Brian Hensley, volunteer with the Lakes Foundation. “Both the city council and watershed board have agreed they need to open more lines of communication. Two of the concerns expressed have included accountability and transparency.  The annual public forum will provide an ongoing opportunity for both accountability and transparency of the conservation efforts within the Watershed District.”

City councilors and the public will have an opportunity to ask questions, review approved plans, review construction documents and budgets and hear an update.

Hensley added, “All involved agree on the most important issues:  1) clean streams in our district, 2) educating and gathering input from citizens, and 3) the continued progress toward the restoration of Fountain Lake and all waters upstream from the Shell Rock River.”

The Lakes Foundation is a local non-profit organization whose mission is: The Albert Lea Lakes Foundation shall serve as an advocate for clean water, the heart of our area known as “The Land Between the Lakes.” We are dedicated to the restoration and preservation of the beauty, habitat and recreational value of our water resources for present and future generations.

© 2015 Shell Rock River Watershed District, 305 S 1st Avenue, Albert Lea, MN 56007