I am writing to voice my concerns as a business owner and resident of Sparta and Lake Mohawk regarding the parking debacle in our community. As of October 23, this situation will be escalated to the status of “crisis” if the powers that be on the Town Council and Advisory Boards do not act and start working with the Lake Mohawk Country Club (LMCC).
I am unsure of how many Sparta and Lake Mohawk residents truly understand what is at stake. Since the Town Council of Sparta Township and the Zoning Board of Adjustments are - without good reason - refusing to cooperate with the LMCC Board of Trustees to rejuvenate the parking lot on West Shore Trail, the residents of Lake Mohawk and Sparta are footing the bill. The LMCC filed suit to nullify one vote against their plans to update the aforementioned parking lot. The lawsuit, now in its second year, is being paid for by LMCC residents via their dues and taxes, and by Sparta residents via their taxes; so if you are following along, LMCC members that live in Sparta Township are paying twice. This costly and unnecessary endeavor - upwards of $250,000 - could be easily avoided if the Township had the same forward-thinking as the LMCC Board of Trustees.
The crux of the matter is that LMCC members are footing the bill for parking lot maintenance and updates, but the lot has been regarded as a public parking lot for many years. The LMCC Board of Trustees reserves the right to restrict access and use of the parking lot to its members, guests, and those conducting business with the LMCC. The indefinite closing of the parking lot comes as a forceful effort to make the Township aware of the problem they have propagated. This will prove to be a catastrophic problem for the entire Sparta community and especially businesses in White Deer Plaza as the holiday season approaches.
There are some staggering facts about LMCC’s relationship with Sparta. A former General Manager of LMCC stated the relationship very aptly, referring Lake Mohawk as “the unwanted stepchild of Sparta.” LMCC encompasses about 40% of the population and pays approximately 50% of the tax basis of Sparta, but does not receive an equitable portion of services. Lake Mohawk is the gem of Sparta. The White Deer Plaza is the downtown area that attracts visitors from all over the state and beyond to shop, dine, and spend money here.
Now is the time for the powers that be at Town Hall to invest in Sparta and not hinder progress in White Deer Plaza. It is an invigorating time to observe what is taking place. Businesses are investing in themselves. Unoccupied properties are being rented, renovated, and opening for business. The LMCC has been trying to create a long-term solution to a long time problem, but the outdated thinking on behalf of the Township is threatening to set our progress back. In order to get the support from the Township, a concerted effort will be required from all stakeholders: LMCC members, Sparta Township residents, and business owners.
Owner of Krogh's Restaurant and Brew Pub