April 04, 2012 - "It's a piece of Heaven on this Earth. It's nature at its best."
Addison resident Gerald Galea is very passionate about protecting Lakeville Lake from those who would act irresponsibly on her waters when boating
season begins. (click for larger version)
That's how Gerald Galea views Lakeville Lake in Addison Township and he intends to keep it that way.
But he can't do it alone, so he and some other concerned property owners on the lake have banded together to raise money to ensure it's regularly patrolled by the Oakland County Sheriff's Marine Patrol and Water Rescue Unit this year.
"Having them on the lake has a calming effect," said Galea, who's lived there for 10 years.
On Tuesday, April 17, the Lakeville Inn Restaurant (1318 Rochester Rd.) will host a fund-raiser for the marine patrol from 4-7 p.m. The event will feature all-you-can-eat pizza and pasta for $6 per person, plus $2 beers. Other contributions will be accepted as well.
"We'd like to raise $10,000," Galea said. "That's the goal."
This amount would allow the sheriff's Marine Unit to patrol Lakeville Lake for a minimum of six hours per day, seven days a week. It would also allow for longer periods of patrol, as much as 10 hours, on weekends and holidays.
"It does not cover 100 percent of the (patrol) cost. It helps subsidize it," Galea noted.
If the property owners don't raise any funds this year, Galea indicated there will be no proactive patrols on the lake. He noted the Marine Division would still respond to calls if something happens such as accidents or sinking boats.
But to Galea, that's no sustitute for an officer's regular presence.
"If they're already on the lake, it's a lot easier for them to react to any issues," he said. "It's always good to have one available when you need it."
Galea explained the reason property owners must help finance these lake patrols is because two years ago, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources cancelled its funding for this service.
Although Addison Township has a $1 million contract for police services with the sheriff's department, this only pays for the seven officers who staff the substation, patrol the roads and conduct investigations.
The 3.4874-mill annual tax paid by township property owners for police does not cover the Marine Unit's services, which are completely separate.
Last year, some of the property owners came together and raised $4,200 to have the lake patrolled for four hours per day on Saturdays and Sundays.
Galea is hoping this year's fund-raising efforts will be more fruitful in order to expand coverage to seven days a week.
Having a law enforcement presence on the water is definitely important given the high volume of traffic Lakeville Lake experiences during the boating season.
"This lake is not a private lake," Galea said. "It's a public access lake. We get a lot of visitors. A lot of people come on the lake and they don't know the rules."
The sheriff's presence is needed to deal with speeders; ensure lake users are "respectful" of others' property; enforce laws concerning alcohol consumption and operating watercraft; ensure boaters have proper safety equipment and licensing; and keep on eye on things so "parties do not get out of hand," according to Galea.
"Above all, it's about the safety aspect and reminding people of their responsibility to this beautiful natural resource that we have here in Lakeville," he said.
Galea invites everyone to attend the April 17 fund-raiser in order to help "maintain the pleasantness this lake possesses."
He wished to thank all the businesses and individuals who are sponsoring this event including Smith's Landing, Bear Paw Cafe, Louie's Food & Spirits, Carthew Law Firm, Greenfield Collision, Ship's Lakeville Landing, Lakeville Inn, Wright's Market, Johnson's Marina, attorney Jim O'Neill and Progressive AE.
"They've donated what they can in these sad economic times," Galea said.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.