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City Council Ready for White Water With Dam Deconstruction

White-water rapids are expected to be flowing through Cuyahoga Falls when the two-week bicentennial celebration kicks off on August 3.

The Cuyahoga Falls City Council is days away from filing a few new pages in the Summit County history books, and the timing couldn’t be better.

On Monday night, the Public and Industrial Improvements Committee -- chaired by ward 7 councilman Jerry James -- unanimously approved a motion to finalize plans for the deconstruction of the and LeFever Dams.

The last step will come next week when city council members vote on whether or not to approve the dam ordinance. 

The plan will cost $1 million (paid for by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District), potentially create category four or five white-water  rapids in sections of the Cuyahoga River and restore aquatic ecosystems that have long been impaired and deoxygenated by the dams, said Valerie Wax Carr, the Cuyahoga Falls Director of Public Service.

Deconstruction is set for June with a completion date of mid to late July, which means the river should be ready for August’s bicentennial celebration,  said city engineer Tony Demasi.

The city has put a team of demolition crews, consultants and engineers together, known as River Works, to handle the project, Carr said.

RiverReach Construction, based out of Norton, will handle the demolition; Akron’s GPD Group will take on the project’s design; an archaeologist will be on site to collect and preserve any artifacts that are discovered; and EnviroScience, located in Stow, will consult with the Ohio EPA to focus on the long-term project of heightening water quality and restoring fish populations in the river.

“We’re going to restore the river’s ability to heal itself,” said Bill Zawiski, a representative from the Ohio EPA who spoke at Monday’s meeting.

Zawiski believes the flooding problems around the LeFever Dam and should decrease as water will be able to move faster and more freely.

Some residents of the River Estates development spoke up to voice concern over how much the water level will decrease when the LeFever Dam is removed.

Demasi said the width of the river could shrink, and that the water level could dip by roughly two feet.

Carr said the city is also talking to recreation experts to see how best to establish kayaking opportunities along the river. More will be known on that end within the next few months, she said.  

Next week's regular City Council meeting will be held at the  on Monday at 6:30 p.m.

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