The village of Lowellville has been tentatively awarded a $2.4 million Ohio Environmental Protection Agency grant for removal of an old industrial dam in the Mahoning River and some 20,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment behind it, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni has announced.
The state senator from Boardman made the announcement Monday evening at a main library meeting of the Friends of the Mahoning River, an advocacy organization for the cleanup of the industrially polluted river.
The state agency ranked Lowellville’s application for removal of its First Street dam fourth among applications from 15 communities for river restoration projects, said village Mayor James Iudiciani.
The state agency, which is accepting public comments until March 18, will award four grants totaling $10 million statewide under its Water Resource Restoration Sponsorship Program.
“It’s a very heartfelt announcement because this is a start to what all of you want,” Schiavoni, D-33rd, told the audience of about 60.
Schiavoni said he’s asking local businesses, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber and residents to write letters to the state agency in support of the Lowellville project.
Village officials will meet Wednesday with MS Consultants, a Youngs-town engineering consulting firm, to determine whetherthe $2.4 million will be sufficient for the project. If not, the village will try to raise additional money, Schiavoni said.
“It’s so much more than a step in the right direction. It’s something that we can finally put our finger on to say: ‘We’re moving this forward and we’re going to clean up this area,’” the state senator said.
“I couldn’t be happier for the Mahoning Valley and the river,” Iudiciani said. This dam removal should set the stage for removal of other industrial dams up river in Struthers, Campbell and Youngstown, he added.
Removing the dams would provide “a clean river that provides a lot better opportunities for recreation” and the economic benefit from it, said John Kwolek, OEPA district engineer and Friends member. Dam removal makes the river much safer for canoeists and kayakers, he added.
Iudiciani cited expert estimates that removing the dams could generate $30 million in annual economic activity for restaurants, canoe liveries and other businesses.