A civil and organized discussion of a proposed causeway bridge connecting Isla Del Sol to the Lake of the Ozarks north shore turned to "scuttle" at times, but some misconceptions cleared Wednesday evening in Lake Ozark.
Isla Del Sol, first known as the Hawaiian Island and then Atlantis Island, sits at the fourth mile marker of Lake of the Ozarks. Rockwood Bank now administers the partially-developed condo project and wants to build a causeway connecting the island to the north shore at Knox Road, also known as W-12. The proposal to close the gap of approximately 350 feet has residents living along W-12 worried about their property values.
"The problem is the island doesn't have enough property," Ted Pope said. "There's not enough land and that's part of this controversy with the causeway. It's been a disaster from the get-go."
The residents worry that if the condo project continues to develop to 240 units as originally planned, traffic on W-12 will become overwhelming.
"We would like to keep our livelihood. I understand the bank is in a real pickle, but we are too," Pope said.
At present, there are three buildings on Isla Del Sol with 30 units each. According to Rockwood Bank representatives, 41 of the 90 condo units have owners. Condo owners and renters go to and from the island by ferry boat.
"What's wrong with the ferry is that it's not economically feasible," Rockwood Bank attorney Robert Droney said. "That's part of the reason why the original developer went under."
Droney says the ferry costs approximately $300,000 per year to operate.
In order to fund the causeway, a road built on top of fill material piled across the body of water, Rockwood Bank wants to establish a community improvement district (CID). The CID would become a taxing entity. The bank would fund causeway construction with a promissory note.
The Isla Del Sol Homeowners Association would then pay the bank reimbursements over time by collecting additional property tax from condo residents.
"The boundary of this CID has been in question. It's just the island and the two lots on land that the bank owns," Droney said.
The Miller County Commission will hold a public hearing on the causeway and CID proposal at 10 a.m. on Sept. 7, at the Miller County Courthouse in Tuscumbia.
Several residents of W-12 spoke out and asked for representatives of Ameren Missouri to intervene. Their first concern was how the causeway would impact the Lake of the Ozarks water movement.
"There will essentially be no impact on the dam or the water level," Osage Power Plant manager Warren Witt of Ameren Missouri said.
Several parties asked about a slippery slope of island development if Isla Del Sol is granted permission to build a causeway.
Page 2 of 2 - "I think it does set a precedent for future development of other islands at Lake of the Ozarks," Ameren Missouri Director of Shoreline Management Jeff Green said.
In order to build the causeway, Isla Del Sol would need a material permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It would also need to apply through Ameren with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to permit the causeway.
"For larger permits that have community-type impacts—those go to FERC for consideration," Green said.
Ameren representatives will continue monitoring public input, especially at the hearing in Tuscumbia.
"We want for the community to tell us if this will work or if it will not work," Green said. "Ameren is a reflection of what the community wants and these folks have to show that they can accommodate the community interest."
If it can't build the causeway, Rockwood Bank may end up walking away from the condo development.
"I don't know what Plan B is for the bank. The bank has already taken a financial hit," Droney said.
The Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance helped organize the panel discussion and open forum on the Isla Del Sol Causeway proposal.