The future for residents on Crystal Lake is murky as officials with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said a public health hazard may cause the park to shut down.
The DNR held a meeting with residents Thursday night about the future of the campground and RV park between Sauk City and Lodi.
Crystal Lake is the spot that flooded numerous times until a pump was installed to reduce water levels late last year. Now, the DNR said waste water could ultimately be the reason the park closes for good. Officials say three wastewater lagoons are out of compliance and need a fix, with at least one if not two of the ponds at groundwater level, putting them at risk of contaminating drinking water.
Judene Stormer is one of some 40 year-round residents of Crystal Lake.
"I'm so sad and scared, nobody knows how scared I am," Stormer said.
Stormer purchased and renovated her home, moving there from Madison after her husband died.
"I've spent every dime here," Stormer said. "I have nowhere to go, and I'm not the only one."
Park general manager Patty Bennett said the company who owns the park was foreclosed on and is trying to sell. But the fix for the wastewater treatment is estimated at $5 million, and the price tag is making the sale dubious. She said it will put those year-round residents at risk.
"They're going to be out a lot of money," Bennett said. "They're going to be homeless."
Longtime visitor Terry Mulcahy is trying to sell his $60,000 home because he doesn't spend enough time there anymore, but said he may lose his entire investment.
"We did a lot of work with this place, and it is in premier condition," Mulcahy said.
Seasonal resident Cheri Denniston said she didn't know about the sewer issue and spent money on shoreline upgrades.
"It's not just that we love the place, but we have money invested here too," Denniston said.
Neighbors agree that they want a fix for the sewer issue that doesn't cost them their modest incomes. But most of all, they just want to stay.
"We would all help 100 percent," Stormer said. "We would give it our all. Wouldn't you give it your all if it's your home?"
DNR representatives said in their letter that they empathize with the situation of the residents, but are concerned there is a public health hazard at Crystal Lake.
If there's no buyer with a commitment to fix the ponds by September, they will revoke the park's permit, requiring it to close in April of next year.