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GIRARD Dam pact delayed



Published: Tue, September 10, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Legislation is being prepared to repair five or six valves at Lower Girard Lake Dam to reduce water levels.

By TIM YOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

GIRARD -- By a 5-to-2 margin, city council agreed to indefinitely postpone entering into an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to breach Lower Girard Lake Dam.

Last week, the Corps extended the Sept. 16 deadline that required the city to use a $1.14 million federal grant on the dam or lose the money.

A new deadline hasn't been set by the corps.

At council's Monday meeting, Councilmen Joseph Lambert and Joseph Christopher, both D-at large, voted against postponing the agreement with the corps.

Councilman John Moliterno, D-at large, asked Mayor Joseph J. Melfi to inform the corps that the city wants to continue working with it and will have an alternative plan within 30 days.

Both the corps and Ohio Department of Natural Resources have told the city the dam is in disrepair and needs to be rehabilitated or replaced.

If the cash-strapped city doesn't take any action, ODNR has said it will do the work at the city's expense.

Councilman Charles Doran, D-4th, asked for the postponement so the city could discuss possible alternatives with the corps and ODNR.

At Doran's request, legislation will be prepared to seek bids to repair five or six valves at the dam so the water level can be lowered without breaching the facility.

Corps' plan

Under the corps' plan, the city would use the $1.14 million to drain the lake, remove some of the concrete for a partial breach, make repairs, then fill the lake to half its current level.

Council did approve legislation to seek bids for the sale of the two Girard Lakes.

During a caucus session before the council meeting, the head of Consumers Ohio Water Co. explained its interest in purchasing the city water distribution and sanitary sewer systems for $8 million.

Company president Walter Piskur said the purchase would include the city's treatment plant, but not the two Girard Lakes.

The city has a $2.9 million debt on the treatment plant. If an agreement can be reached, Piskur explained, the city could pay off the debt with the balance used to get the city out of a state-imposed fiscal emergency.

Piskur said he arrived at the $8 million after taking to the mayor and some residents.

He explained that the treatment system needs to be repaired, but Consumers Ohio is willing to make the investment to expand its customer base, such as selling water in adjacent Liberty Township.

Christopher pointed out that since Liberty pays a portion of the treatment debt because of use, it would have a say in determining if the plant is sold.

Piskur was president of Consumers Ohio when it sold the Girard Lakes to the city. They were sold, he explained, because the company lost its industrial customer base in the area.

yovich@vindy.com




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