As a resident of Stoughton for the past 20+ years, I feel compelled to tell you about my experience this past weekend.

I took my young grandson to the footbridge over the Yahara River when a white van backed in. Thought it was a delivery for the Nauti Norske then realized it was two fellas with scuba diving gear. This peaked our interest so we went over to chat with them.

Come to find out they come up from Illinois and routinely go through the Yahara River “cleaning it up.” Before the days of garbage pick up, everyone threw their garbage in the river. They said we’re lucky as the water is very clean and clear, and it’s easy for them to see the bottom.

I asked if they’ve heard about the Whitewater Park proposal, and they immediately said, ‘Yes we have, and it’ll ruin your city. All they want to do is build condos.’ They said the water will go down 12-24” around the banks, and it’ll be muck. It will change the landscape entirely.

They’re no experts, however, they’ve been diving for over 30 years, and I’m no ecologist. I told them they should attend one of the town hall meetings and share their point of view, but they said, ‘Since we’re not from this area, it wouldn’t do any good. That’s why we’re telling as many residents as we can.”

We have a gem of a city here with the enchanted downtown, art galleries, gazebo music nights, Catfish Music Festival, the Opera House, Mandt Park,countless other activities and the Yahara River for leisurely use and beautiful landscape. There’s got to be something we can do as a community to preserve the Yahara River.

Bonnie Kiss