Hubbard, Brookfield working to mitigate liability of Coalburg dam
HUBBARD TOWNSHIP — Trustees have contacted U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, and other government officials to attend a future meeting to help Brookfield and Hubbard townships save the Coalburg Lake dam.
Trustees Chairman Rick Hernandez said at the recent trustees meeting there has been talk of breaching the dam with an ongoing lawsuit from the Ohio attorney general’s office against the property owners. He said trustees want to avoid the dam being breached and having “a muddy lake there.”
“We are doing what we can to save the lake and the dam,” Hernandez said.
He said officials hope to have state officials, including state Reps. Sandra O’Brien, R-Lenox, and Michael Loychik, R-Bazetta, and members of the Coalburg Land Group whose properties abut the lake property, attend a future meeting to plan for saving the lake and dam.
No date has been set.
Trustee Fred Hanley said Brookfield and Hubbard township officials and the Army Corps of Engineers previously have had talks about making Coalburg Lake and dam a water control project under the federal government.
He said liability with the dam is a reason a park can’t be created at the property or the land there sold.
“Our goal is to save the dam and the lake. We will reach out to officials to help us do this. This will be one step at a time,” Hanley said.
The dam holds back the water of Coalburg Lake, which covers parts of Hubbard and Brookfield townships.
Two years ago, an inspection by Ohio’s Division of Water Resources deemed the dam unsafe. The inspection led to a recent lawsuit filed in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost indicating the dam “continues to pose a threat to life, health and property downstream.”
The lawsuit was filed against the dam’s owners, Coalburg Land Partners, concerned that the dam could not contain a flood that may be expected from the most severe weather conditions.
Hernandez said Youngstown Sheet and Tube owned this property in the early 1900s. He said Sheet and Tube built the dam that created the lake to supply its blast furnace in Hubbard with water.
Officials said they have been told costs to repair the dam are more than $1.5 million. Hernandez said he would like to see the dam repaired and the lake remain there for future land development.
Hernandez said some homes are located near the dam.
Hubbard and Brookfield township officials had talked with Trumbull MetroParks to take over the property but it had concerns over the dam’s liability issues, officials said.
In other business, trustees discussed the need for more part-time police officers.
Hernandez said trustees are reviewing police staffing that includes a working police chief, a captain and five full-time officers. He said two police officers are off.
“We are so limited we are having overtime, which should not have to be. We have had officers work overtime and who are getting tired,” Hernandez said.
Officials said the department has five part-time officers who start at $11.45 per hour, advance to $12 per hour after two years, $12.50 per hour after four years and then $13.75 per hour after eight years.
Hanley said the township is facing challenges in getting applicants at the current wages.
Hernandez said despite being understaffed, the police department in recent weeks has handled a body being found on Lewis Seifert Road and a pedestrian hit and killed by a truck in the Truck World parking lot.
Fiscal officer Jennifer Evans said the pay can’t be increased right now because of limited funds.
Trustees will have a special meeting 9 a.m. Wednesday at township hall to vote on placing two police renewal levies on the ballot and to hire a full-time police officer.
Hanley said the police officers have not been taking on extra “moonlighting” shifts because of the limited staff.
Police Chief Greg Tarr is planning to retire April 1, and Assistant Chief Ron Fusco will serve as acting chief. Tarr is paid $30 per hour.
In 2021, the police department responded to 4,243 calls, which was a 5.3 percent increase over 4,026 calls in 2020.