Lowellville awarded money to remove dam, install boat launch
By Graig Graziosi
Kayakers cut down the Mahoning River, paddling along a busy shoreline where restaurants provide diners with riverside views, past fountains jetting water into the air and fishing enthusiasts casting their lines hoping for a bite.
This idyllic depiction of what Lowellville’s riverside might become – captured in a painting displayed in the village’s administration building – is one step closer to reality thanks to an Ohio Department of Natural Resources grant recently awarded to the village.
The NatureWorks grant, a $52,385 match grant between Lowellville and the ODNR, will be used to replace a dam in the Mahoning River with a small boat livery, serving mainly canoes and kayaks.
Mayor James Iudiciani said the dam removal has been a priority for the village and the first step in revitalizing Lowellville’s riverside district.
“We’ve been working toward removing this dam for at least two years,” Iudiciani said.
In addition to the NatureWorks grant, the village also received a $2.3 million Clean Ohio grant to use in the removal of the dam as well as construction of a parking lot for the boat livery and educational signs and materials regarding the river.
Revitalizing the village’s riverfront portion is one part of a broader plan to revitalize Lowellville’s downtown area. At a recent council meeting, members went into executive session to discuss matters relating to the livery and the downtown revitalization plans.
Though a firm timeline on the changes coming to Lowellville is not yet available, Iudicani said he intends to begin work on removing the dam early next year and hopes to have the dam fully removed by summer.
“We’re hoping this will bring more people into the village who are looking for recreational activities,” Iudicani said. “We’ve already got the bike trail here, so we’re hoping to bring in people who are looking for those outdoor adventure-type activities.”
In addition to potentially being a tourism boon for the village, removing the dam also will give Lowellville the chance to dredge toxic sediment out of the water and allow the river to begin to return to a more natural flow. Removing the dam also will encourage healthier fish populations and improve the river’s velocity, village officials said.