The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

December 4, 2013

Dam vote delayed to 2014

Officials need to find $1.6M to balance budget

(Continued)

The actual EAV decrease and property tax rate won’t be known until May.

At the public hearing on the Vermilion River and Ellsworth Park dams, eight audience members spoke. All were against removing the dams. The audience members largely asked the aldermen to listen to the public and leave the dams alone.

One person suggested a water wheel be installed, while others support a rock ramp or nothing be done. They said the dams are an “acceptable risk” to leave in place due to only about five deaths occurring there over the years.

Danville urban services Director David Schnelle warned aldermen that doing nothing with the dams doesn’t solve the problem with the northeast abutment with the Vermilion River dam and the Walnut Street bank stabilization that is needed. That cost is estimated at $500,000 to $750,000.

Schnelle said the area near Walnut Street will continue to erode and the city will need to “address the urgent situation, regardless, and soon.” The partial removal of the dam would fix the issue, Schnelle said.

IDNR officials also reminded city officials that because the dams are city owned, the city is responsible for any cleanup and liability damage with any dam failure.

Ward 7 Alderman Bill Black also asked city officials for one more “true public hearing” on the issue that would not be in the city council chambers and that would have a third party overseeing the meeting.

“I think it would help all of us,” Black said, about making the best decision.

Members of the city council’s Public Works Committee already voted against partial removal of the Danville Dam behind the Public Safety Building.

Some aldermen believe other alternatives, such as a rock ramp spillway, would be better for local fishing.

The committee was split on recommending full removal of the Ellsworth Park Dam on the North Folk Vermilion River.

The full city council now is expected to vote on the issue on Jan. 7.

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