By EMMALEE C. TORISK
Struthers Mayor Terry Stocker is hopeful that Lowellville’s success in acquiring a $2.4 million dam- removal grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year will bode well for the cities of Struthers and Campbell, which jointly submitted an application of their own about two weeks ago.
“We’d like to build around Lowellville’s accomplishments,” Stocker said. “Both communities would like to be as successful as Lowellville has been. It’s a matter of rolling up our sleeves and getting busy.”
If Struthers and Campbell’s river-restoration project is selected to receive funding, the $5.5 million grant through the Ohio EPA’s Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program would finance removal of an industrial dam on the Mahoning River between the two cities, as well as about 35,000 cubic yards of polluted sediment.
Not only would removal of the Struthers-Campbell dam, just upstream of the Bridge Street Bridge, improve water quality, but it also would help to further open up the Mahoning River. Miles of a clean and free-flowing river, Stocker said, could attract water-sports enthusiasts, the presence of whom might also eventually spur economic growth along the waterway.
He added that his goal is for the three communities’ actions to start a chain reaction in getting all of the dams — previously used to collect pools of water that were pumped into industrial facilities to cool equipment — removed up to Trumbull County.
Stocker said this vision isn’t terribly far-fetched, but acknowledged that the grant is highly competitive, with limited funds available. If Struthers and Campbell do receive the funding, though, it’s likely that the dam- removal project wouldn’t cost them anything out of pocket.
“We still have to prove ourselves. It’s not automatic,” he said, adding that the city submitted its 12-page grant application Aug. 30. “We have to start somewhere, somehow. We want to be proactive and try to do the right thing for both communities.”
The city of Struthers is serving as the lead for the project, while Campbell is assuming a secondary role, said Campbell Mayor Bill VanSuch.
He explained that they chose to collaborate on the application because dam removal would benefit both cities and perhaps also give them a better chance of receiving the grant.
“Why not jump on the bandwagon? You’re not going to know if you don’t try,” VanSuch said. “We’re always looking for different avenues that could help us out.”
If funding is approved for the Struthers-Campbell dam-removal project, it likely would begin in 2014, and be completed by the end of the following year.