Plan to remove Leavittsburg Dam met with fierce opposition
It's part of the identity of the Leavittsburg community, and folks who live there can't imagine their corner of the world without it.
Which is why before Tuesday's public meeting about a proposal to remove the Leavittsburg Dam even started, they had the battle lines clearly drawn.
"I just think there's a lot of things that you don't know anything about yet and it's premature to push this on this town," said one resident to Ohio EPA's Bill Zawiski.
Zawiski told the crowd, "Compromise means doing what's right, and we don't know what that is yet."
He, along with representatives from the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments took the roughly 100 people through every step of a project like this one - which comes with a $20 million price tag - from concept to reality.
Zawiski tried to explain why it's needed.
"Dams alter water. They make a river, not a river, and they alter the biology and the chemistry. The bigger the dam, the bigger the problems," he said.
Among the most significant concerns from residents - the water levels dropping to the point that sewer pipes could be exposed.
Canoers want to be able to use the precious natural resource for recreation.
And what could the lasting effects of removing the dam be?
"We really don't have anything to say one way or the other because we don't own the dam, but we hope that they'll listen to the opposition," said Warren Township trustee Kay Anderson.
Eastgate representatives say it'll take as long as necessary to reach a consensus.
The people of Leavittsburg have only one consensus in mind.
"Q: So is the ultimate goal to stop these plans? A: That's what our residents that have approached us want," said Anderson.
Eastgate officials say Tuesday's meeting was the first in a series of public forums on this proposal. No word yet on when the next one will be, and it'll be up to Eastgate, the EPA, and Trumbull County Metroparks to decide the fate of the dam.
Braceville Township trustees along with many residents there are also opposed to removing the dam.
The Leavittsburg Dam is one of nine along the Mahoning River that the EPA wants to remove to allow the river to more efficiently clean itself up.