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Barge to remove sinking houseboats on Lake Lanier
Corps of Engineers cites safety concerns about grounded hulls
Three houseboats are either sinking or grounded around a dock on Lake Lanier across from Laurel Park. - photo by Tom Reed

It’s not often that problems just float away on their own.

But the stir over three sinking houseboats creating an unsightly scene on Lake Lanier may be nearing a resolution just in time for July Fourth fireworks.

Property owner Ann G. Krummel has been under pressure by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to remove the boats, which are no longer seaworthy and are stuck across from North Hall’s Laurel Park.

Among other things, the corps has cited safety concerns.

The boats lie in the main channel leading to Laurel Park, where the American Legion Paul E. Bolding Post 7 holds its annual July Fourth fireworks display.

Krummel, a Stone Mountain resident who owns the 0.62-acre lot off Mandalay Road near Clarks Bridge Road in Gainesville, had previously reported that she was trying to get the boats removed but was finding an affordable solution difficult.

Tim Krummel, Ann’s son, was working on fixing up the boats before a strong storm last summer was blamed for sinking two of the boats, the family reports.

“... And then, somebody put two holes in my other boat,” Ann Krummel told The Times in April.

As it turns out, removing large sunken and grounded vessels around Lake Lanier can be fairly tricky since the heavy equipment needed to take them away cannot be driven on the shoreline beside the wreckage. That’s due in part to difficult shoreline terrain, but also because of corps restrictions against driving the machinery on federal lands.

“You can’t do it yourself,” said Ann Krummel. “We tried.”

The property owner said she reached out to several marine contractors but few had any solutions.

“I talked to every marina along Lake Lanier. Nobody knew what to do,” she said.

Some contractors had ideas for removal with estimates over $30,000.

However, at a U.S. Magistrate Court appearance on Monday, the property owner reported that she’s found a way to get the boats removed before July 4.

Her answer, it seems, is Brad Wiegand. Wiegand owns and operates Boat Dock Works, which specializes in shoreline construction and excavation. The Hall County native has offered to have the boats removed at a price the Krummels can stomach.

“Lake Lanier can thank him for getting rid of the eyesore,” she said.

His solution is to float the necessary equipment to the wreckage by barge and then ship it away.

Wiegand said his company will deploy excavator machinery and other materials to break the boats into manageable pieces on site before hauling them back to a designated area. From there, some of the scrap metal will be recycled and the rest driven to the landfill.

Boat Dock Works has worked with the corps in the past, said Wiegand, and all of his work would meet the “corps’ standards.”

From the corps’ perspective, the plan should be sufficient, said Nick Baggett, natural resource manager for the corps.

“As long as Ann Krummel gets the contractor, we’ll go ahead and dismiss the case,” Baggett said, “All we want is compliance.”

After a lot of stress, Ann Krummel said she was thankful to find someone who could do the job.

Actually, there were some newspaper readers who served as matchmaker for the Krummels and Wiegand.

After The Times ran a story about the sinking houseboats debacle in April, calls started pouring in with suggestions.

Someone mentioned Wiegand, said Ann Krummel, and he offered to remove the boats at a cost less than $15,000.

“That’s still a lot of money to gather,” said Ann Krummel, but much more affordable than other estimates.

Wiegand said his company is one of the only local contractors that can do this kind of work on Lake Lanier. “It will probably be a several-day project,” he said. “But it should be cleaned up by July 4 before the Gainesville fireworks show.”

Tim Krummel said U.S. officials told him they had until the end of the month to remove the mess.

Wiegand, a Hall County native, said this project is part of the overall mission of his company and a win for all involved.

“Our main concern is safety and keeping the lake clean for future generations’ use,” he said. “We want the lake looking good because we appreciate what it does for the economy.”

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