The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

December 13, 2013

Make a decision on dams

The Commercial-News

---- — Danville officials yet another in a series of public discussions on Jan. 2 regarding the future of two dams in the city, one of the North Fork of the Vermilion River at Ellsworth Park on the city’s west side and the other on the Vermilion River near the Public Safety Building.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources earmarked the dams for demolition after performing a study on the structures, which are decades old. Neither performs its original function these days. The dam behind the PSB can, especially at times of high river levels, create a hazard for canoeists who are unaware of its existence. Several years ago, a young woman drowned at the dam when she was caught in a strong current created at the base of the dam.

The idea of removing the dams, however, has stirred loud and long reaction from sportsmen who fish the river. Even though the IDNR representatives maintain river levels will not change dramatically if the dams are removed, many stand against the removal of the dams because they say the water levels will drop and the quality of fishing will decline.

City officials have talked ... and talked ... and talked about this issue for months. Can we just make a decision, please?

The city can use state funds to demolish the dams, but only to demolish them. The cost of altering the structures will come out of the city’s coffers — which are filled by taxpayers — alone. The third option would be to do nothing and allow the dams to continue their slow decline.

This issue has gone on long enough. Experts have presented findings more than once, Advocates for protecting the dams have given their views more than once. Meanwhile, most city residents don’t care one way or the other.

It seems as though aldermen spent less time talking about the city’s budget — which everyone should care about — than they have these dams. It’s time to move on. Soon.