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Cathy Basile, Falls Free Press, 4-19-2019
Public Meets to Hear Information on Gorge Dam Removal

Stephen Mulé
A shot from the Akron side of the Gorge Dam, which is expected to be removed by 2023.
More than 200 area residents gathered at the Natatorium Tuesday for an informational meeting about the Gorge Dam removal presented by the Ohio and U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies and Summit Metro Parks. Following the two-hour presentation, the audience was encouraged to share concerns as well as ask questions about the project and its effect on surrounding communities.

The local history of the Gorge begins in the 1700s with seasonal use by numerous Native American tribes along the banks of the Cuyahoga River. Ohio became the 17th state of the union in 1803 and the incorporation of Cuyahoga Falls followed in 1836. In 1840, construction of the Chuckery Race dam and canal began, which would provide water power for manufacturing in what was then called Summit City, but is now known as North Hill in Akron. In all, four additional dams were built in the area.

Initiated by the Clean Water Act of 1972 and to improve water quality in the Cuyahoga River, the Kent Dam was removed in 2004, and in 2006 the Munroe Falls Dam came down. The Sheraton Mill Dam near Broad Boulevard and the LaFever Powerhouse Dam located to the north of Portage Trail were both removed in 2013.

During its 100-plus-year history, the Gorge Dam has accumulated nearly 900,000 cubic yards of sediment behind the dam that has to be removed before the dam can be taken out. Containment of the sediment will be in a landfill—likely located along Cuyahoga Street—that isolates it from the surrounding environment by use of an impervious liner and cap.

The Gorge Dam project is being handled in four phases beginning with a cost estimate and feasibility study that has already been completed. Currently, the EPA is in the second phase, which is to determine the best way to remove and contain the sediment—Jacobs Engineering Group has been selected to conduct the plan development. Another part of Phase II includes a cultural resource management plan for the evaluation and preservation of historic and archaeological sites, both previously identified and those which may be exposed during the dam removal. Phases III and IV will manage the removal of sediment and the deconstruction of the dam itself. Completion of the removal of the Gorge Dam is expected by 2023.

Of special interest to those in attendance and municipalities affected by improvement to the river is the enhancement of recreational opportunities and tourism. The economic benefits would likely extend to business and residential growth as well.

Residents are encouraged to be involved and express any comments and question by contacting Summit Metro Parks online at www.greatlakesmud.org/community-involvement4.html or by sending an email to mshaeffer@summitmetroparks.org.

  
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