Report: Dam should be replaced immediately

Associated Press


A new report that suggests draining a central Ohio lake to prevent a potentially catastrophic dam failure has about 1,600 area homeowners worried about plunging property values.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report released Wednesday said the 180-year-old dam at Buckeye Lake, about 30 miles east of Columbus, should be replaced immediately. The agency recommended the lake be drained until repairs can be made.

Real-estate agents say buyer interest in the area previously has been robust, but warn it will be more difficult to sell a house on a lake without the water, The Columbus Dispatch reported. Real-estate agent Marnita Swickard said she spent most of Thursday trying to calm panicked sellers.

Community members are also worried about the impact that decreasing home values would have on public services.

“When you stop to think about the impact of property values on those counties — Perry, Licking and Fairfield — and the dramatic impact of those revenues on schools, fire and police protection and jobs, the impact is phenomenal,” said Michael Kappas, who is trying to sell his home.

About 50 lakefront homes are for sale. Most homes in the area can sell for $250,000 to more than $500,000, The Advocate in Newark reported.

But many homes surrounding the nearly 5-square-mile lake are passed down among families, said resident and real- estate agent Cathy Cassady.

State officials have said they will take several weeks to consider the report and will seek public input before making a final decision. The lake will be kept at lower winter levels until a decision is made.

Jerry Besanceney, who is trying to sell one of the condominiums he owns on the lake, said keeping the area safe should be a priority.

“You have to let science lead the way,” he said. “That’s the only thing that makes sense. You can’t endanger people because we don’t want to lose jobs and property on the lake.”

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