Engineers think the dam should be partially breached and the lake emptied.
By TIM YOIVCH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
GIRARD -- The Army Corps of Engineers has extended the deadline to use federal funds to partially breach Lower Girard Lake dam, a congressional candidate says.
State Sen. Timothy J. Ryan of Niles, D-32nd, made the announcement Friday, using the deteriorating concrete dam as a backdrop.
Col. Raymond K. Scrocco, the corps' district engineer, gave the city until Sept. 16 to use a $1.14 million federal grant to breach the dam or lose the money. Breaching is removal of parts of a dam to make repairs.
Ryan, aiming to replace James A. Traficant Jr. as 17th District congressman, said Scrocco told him the deadline will be extended. A new deadline hasn't been set.
In the meantime, Ryan said, the structure will be studied for a partial breach in which the lower lake will be emptied, repairs made and the lake refilled to half its current level.
Announcement of the Sept. 16 deadline increased the debate on what to do with the city-owned property, a purchase credited with putting the city under a state-imposed fiscal emergency.
Those who own lakefront property have been especially vocal about keeping the lake filled to protect their investments.
Wednesday, Mayor James J. Melfi requested the Corps study the possibility of a partial breach using the $1.41 million grant.
In a Thursday response letter, Scrocco said the Corps is amenable to analyzing the partial breach proposal to facilitate rebuilding the dam by the city at a later time.
Scrocco wrote that the outcome of a breach must to the satisfaction of the Corps and Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The ODNR has informed the city that if the dam isn't breached, the state will either breach or repair it at the city's expense.
At a minimum, Scrocco wrote, the work would include removing some of the concrete structure and emptying the lake.
If the city agrees, Scrocco wrote, the $1.41 million will be used for the study, cost estimates and actual work.
The city must agree to open the valves to drain the lake sometime in November. When city council meets Monday, it will consider entering into an agreement with the Corps to breach the dam.
Melfi has said he doesn't want to loose the grant and the city can't afford to spend any money on it.