Ice jams causing extra work for family-owned SE Minnesota business

Silver Lake Fun is still cleaning up the damage caused by spring ice jams.

Posted: Mar 27, 2019 8:57 AM
Updated: Mar 27, 2019 2:58 PM

ROCHESTER, Minn. – Though now melted, the ice jams on Silver Lake are still causing problems for the business at the park, Silver Lake Fun.

The company gives people the chance to paddleboat, bike, and canoe at the park during the warm months. Aaron Richard took it over in 2006.

“Right around the beginning of March we get excited, we start coming down and cleaning up,” he said.

But this year was different.

“I've been here 13 years and I've never seen anything close to this,” he said. “It just literally looked like everything blew up down here. There were ice chunks on top of ice chunks. And it was just crazy. The dock was bowed up on both sides probably like three feet.”

The ice jams actually caused one section of the dock to snap off.

Even though Richard prepared for the spring flooding by chaining boats to the land, damage was still done. It washed away a gate, knocked down a fence, flooded some trailers, and ruined new mulch.

“All of this mulch was new last year, so we'll probably have to get all new mulch again this year too,” he said. “We just have to put stuff back together now.”

The City of Rochester is trying to repair the dock for Richard.

“They think that they have the equipment to fix it. That's a great help. If we had to replace the section, it can be a couple thousand dollars a section, so prices can go up really fast then,” he said.

Even if the dock can be fixed, Richard said they have a few hundred dollars in damage. The biggest headache the spring ice jams bring is all the extra work it will take to open back up for business.

“It's going to be the extra work we're going to have to put in to getting it ready for the season again,” Richard said. “Typically, it will take us 40 to 50 hours to get everything ready and get everything on the water. I can anticipate it taking twice that amount of time this year.”

Richard said he’ll spend this upcoming weekend trying out paddleboats and seeing if the lake is ready for customers.

He expects to open on weekends in April and to be open every day starting in May.

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