GIRARD Official seeks funds to deal with dam

The council committee chairman hasn't seen the letter.
GIRARD -- An Army Corps of Engineers official is recommending the city receive $2.5 million in federal funds to breach Lower Girard Lake Dam.
Lester S. Dixon, the corps' deputy for planning, programs and projects, included his recommendation in a letter to the assistant secretary of the Army.
Mayor James J. Melfi released the March 27 letter Thursday.
Dixon's recommends that the dam be "fully removed" at 100 percent federal cost, up to $2.5 million.
After that, the official wrote, any additional expense would be the responsibility of the city.
Of $900,000 in federal funds given to the city to study the dam, about $600,000 remains. Melfi said an additional $1 million has been committed federally to deal with the structure.
Melfi said no matching money from the city has been discussed.
Dennis Meek, consultant with the utilities division of Burgess & amp; Niple, a Columbus-based engineering and architectural firm, said a city's share is usually 25 percent. He added that sometimes communities can negotiate to bring the cost down to 10 percent.
Dixon's recommendation comes as the result of a Nov. 20, 2001, meeting with Melfi.
Recalling meeting: According to Dixon's recollection of the meeting, the mayor said he wanted either a full breach of the dam or a partial breach so the dam is safe while the city seeks more funding for reconstruction.
What to do with the lakes, their surrounding city-owned property and other city lands is in a city council ad hoc committee under the chairmanship of Councilman Charles Doran, D-4th.
Doran said Thursday he was unaware of Dixon's letter and would welcome a copy from the mayor.
The recently-formed committee, Doran said, is just beginning to get information about city properties so it can discuss what to do with them.
The purchase of the upper and lower lakes by the city is one of the significant reasons the city was forced last year into a state-imposed fiscal emergency by state Auditor Jim Petro.
The dam at the lower lake was constructed in 1917 and improvements were made in 1930.
The city bought the lakes and surrounding 1,000 acres of land in the mid 1990s for $2.5 million.
The plan was to use the lakes as a water sources, but costs became too high.
The price tag to rehabilitate the deteriorated dam is about $10 million, while the cost of building a water filtration plant is $15 million.
The city pays $234,000 annually toward the purchase cost.

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