$2.3M Lowellville Dam Removal to Wrap by Late 2019

$2.3M Lowellville Dam Removal to Wrap by Late 2019

LOWELLVILLE, Ohio — The village is undertaking a dam removal project that, when completed late next year, will help fish migrate and spread more oxygen throughout the water, improving the environment and creating a clean place for recreation.

That was the message from Mayor James Iduciani at the official kickoff event Friday afternoon at the Veterans Memorial Peace Park gazebo. He and village council addressed residents and elected officials about the $2.3 million project that will remove a dam from the portion of the Mahoning River that runs through Lowellville. Initial stages of the project have already begun, he said, and the removal process will begin in spring 2019.

During the event, the mayor offered a round of thanks to the people who helped make it happen, including Craig Butler, director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Christopher Kogelnik, regional manager of CT Consultants, who helped map and develop the city’s direction alongside Iduciani, as well as his mother and family.

“We make things happen — all the movers and shakers are here. It takes a lot of effort and a lot of money, and I’ve got to thank my village council for putting up with me and for everything you do,” Iduciani said.

Engineering work for the project has already begun and engineers have identified “five hotspots” along the river that they will dredge to remove contaminants, followed by water treatment, he said. Once the water is treated, workers will remove the dam.

“The engineering was $700,000 and taking the dam out will be another $280,000 plus some. We actually just applied for another Clean Ohio grant through the state for $750,000 to take the dam out and encapsulate the bank and do even more along the river,” the mayor said.

“It is groundbreaking,” added CT Consultants’ Kogelnik. “It will bring land development, recreation development and we’re working on the bike trail as well. It will all improve with the result of removing those dams.”

Removing the dam will open the door for additional recreational opportunities, including a new program called Mahoning Whitewater Adventures. Founders Bill Tomich and Clark Babb hope to attract more tourism traffic with the program.

“Lowellville has been very supportive of this idea. They were excited when we came to them with the idea,” Tomich said. “We are going to create [a limited liability company] so that we can cover not only ourselves but the city. Safety is No. 1, and we’re going to have a list of safety rules up on one of the buildings along the river.”

Babb has traveled up and down the Mahoning River many times on his kayak and is hoping to branch out into Youngstown and through New Castle with the program, he said.

“Youngstown has a gold mine there. We are waiting for them to get on board as well,” Babb said.

Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown said that he is in full support of the dam removal idea for the city’s area of the Mahoning River.

“We are on the list to be scheduled to remove our three dams. The Mahoning River [Corridor] Mayor’s Association has met and discussed it and we really like the idea of removing the dams,” he said.

Through the Ohio EPA Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program, or WRRSP, cities are able to work together with financing smaller projects to improve their water quality, said the organization’s Butler. The Ohio EPA got involved in the Lowellville project in 2012 and 2013 after a presentation by village officials to remove the dams and “an even broader project to remove all the dams in the river,” Butler said.

“It’s pretty unique to Ohio, and the city of Canton is supporting this $2.3 million dollar project for the removal of the Lowellville dams,” Butler said. “Our model is the Cuyahoga River and seeing those improvements in water quality and recreation, and we think we can duplicate that here.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.