LAKE PLACID - After clearing weeds around his dock a few months ago Rob Pelski noticed a "blanket of green growth" recently on the bottom of Lake McCoy that he believes shouldn't be there.
"When you clean that far down to the sand the only thing that should come back up is the lake grass and I have been trying to find out what that is because it has been coming back fast and it looks foreign," Pelski said Wednesday.
Pelski is among more than a dozen Lake McCoy property owners who have donated to a planned project to improve the lake's water quality.
"If you are going to live on it of course you want to have it as clean as possible," he said.
The 56-acre lake receives direct storm water discharge from both U.S. 27 and a commercial/industrial land use area adjacent to U.S. 27, according to a Highlands County Soil and Water Conservation District application with the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
The proposed work to minimize the runoff includes the construction and installation of filtration, swales and drainage features.
A shortfall in funds for the project prompted the effort to seek help from property owners and nearby businesses.
Lake Placid Councilwoman Debra Worley said the water management district pushed its time line up two weeks, but it was decided more time was needed to receive donations from the public and businesses.
The Lake Placid Watershed Advisory Board decided to set a new deadline of April 10 to receive the donations, she said.
"We feel confident that everything is moving forward with no problems," Worley said. "We just need to get the rest of the donations."
The project will be funded with a $110,000 grant from the Southwest Water Management District along with the required $27,500 match - $25,000 Highlands County Soil and Water, $2,500 Town of Lake Placid.
In the community effort to raise money for the design work, pledges have been made by 17 lake-front owners including The Terraces Condos Association. The owner of W&W Lumber has contributed $1,500 and Duke Energy is contributing $1,000, according to Worley.
The water district estimated a cost of $17,000 for the design and engineering costs, but Johnson Engineering has offered to perform the work at reduced rate for $10,000, Worley said.
Worley continues to solicit donations, which are going to the Highlands County Lakes Associations.
"This is the first time we have collected money from individuals," Worley noted. "I have gotten easements donated before, but I never actually had dollar contributions."
About $4,000 is needed now, she said.
Lake McCoy is located on the south end of Lake Placid just east of U.S. 27. Only the north side of the lake is within the Lake Placid town limits.