One councilman said the condition of the Lower Girard Lake Dam has been 'over-exaggerated.'
By TIM YOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
GIRARD -- City council has agreed to consider legislation to breach Lower Girard Lake Dam.
Councilman Joseph Lambert, D-at-large, said at Monday night's council meeting that he was seeking the measure after hearing earlier during a council caucus session from representatives of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
They said the dam is "at risk of failing." If a decision of what to do with the dam is not made by September, the city will lose a $2.5 million federal grant.
Mark B. Ogden, administrator of the water management section of ODNR's Division of Water, said the dam deficiencies have been known for years and no decision has been made by the city on what to do with it.
The city will lose the $2.5 million, Ogden explained, if the grant is not used and is reprogrammed by Congress. In such an event, the city will be entirely liable for any damage caused by the dam's failure.
Councilman Charles Doran, D-4th, chairman of council's property research committee, said ODNR has exaggerated the condition of the dam and the city should develop a long-range plan for it.
Mayor James J. Melfi countered that delays will eventually cost the city the grant and warned that it's not economically feasible to use the two Girard Lakes as a water source.
The lakes were bought as a water source, but the water was found to be too expensive to purify for drinking.
Kathleen J. Anderson, project manager with the Corps of Engineer's Pittsburgh district, said it will cost about $1 million to breach the dam and remove debris, or $9.2 million to rehabilitate it.
In other business, council postponed acting on legislation to combine the positions of city safety director and city service director.
Similar legislation failed earlier this year.
Councilwoman Kathleen O'Connell Sauline, D-2nd, resubmitted the legislation because she said she believes it will save money.
Also, Councilmen Clyde Wagner, D-3rd, and Joseph Christopher, D-at-large, were not city council members during the initial vote.
Melfi has argued the separate positions have more than saved the city money, especially in labor negotiations with costs decreasing from $157,000 in 1999 to $14,700 in 2000.
Lambert asked that the legislation be postponed so his employee welfare committee can study the effects.