By danny restivo
The Director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will visit the village to view a potential dam- removal project along the Mahoning River today.
Scott Nally will tour the First Street dam before returning to the village hall for a discussion with Mayor James Iudiciani, Struthers Mayor Terry Stocker, V&M Star representatives and members from Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber for a discussion about restoring the river.
A press release from Lowellville said the idea of the visit “is to get the director familiar with the local interest in the Mahoning River and to show him that there is real interest, both public and private, to restoring this river.”
After visiting Lowellville, the release said Nally will then head to the Davis Center in Mill Creek MetroParks for a luncheon in the rose garden. Nally then will meet with the Eastgate Environmental Planning and Advisory Committee where he will discuss the Ohio EPA’s budget, oil and gas updates and dam-removal throughout the Valley.
In February, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, D-33rd, announced Lowellville had tentatively been awarded $2.4 million from the Ohio EPA to help remove the First Street dam. The Ohio EPA ranked Lowellville’s application for its First Street dam fourth among applications from the agency’s 15 other river- restoration projects, Iudiciani said.
The state agency will award four grants totaling $10 million statewide under its Water Resource Restoration Sponsorship Program.
Although the Ohio EPA still has to review the application and complete an environmental assessment before the grant can be awarded officially to Lowellville in the fall, there is a healthy dose of optimism.
A spokesperson with the Ohio EPA said the amount of support it has received, including letters from Campbell, Struthers and Lowellville, during the grant’s comment period was “unprecedented.”
Officials from Struthers, Campbell and Lowellville are working together on removing the First Street Dam. They said an influx in business from potential “river enthusiasts” looking to canoe or kayak could greatly change the perception of the river’s being polluted while generating economic activity.