Allegan holds public meeting on dam’s future

ALLEGAN, Mich. — The City of Allegan held a public meeting where residents had the opportunity to voice their opinion on what should happen to the city-owned dam.

Officials are considering destroying the dam due to costs of repairs and other grants that are available. On Thursday, residents got a chance to talk to city leaders about what they think should happen.

The dam no long functions to produce hydroelectric power — what it was originally intended for — and is deteriorating according to the Department of Natural Resources. It also poses a risk to the environment, as the water in the impoundment area of the dam is contaminated with man-made chemicals from old paper mills.

People in support of repairing the dam say it’s what makes the city and the potential project to remove it would change that. The removal would also change the area for people who own homes on the riverfront.

“I see all the wildlife that uses that water where we live, and I just don’t want to lose my waterfrontage, I have 200 feet of waterfrontage … and it would all be gone,” homeowner Alisa Bazan said.

Bill Morgan said he is worried about the wildlife disappearing.

“My concern is that those things will be gone, and I won’t be able to see them. But I’m sure that they will go someplace else, but I may not see them again,” Morgan said. “We have deer, we have waterfowl. We have kinds of stuff in our backyards.”

Regardless of what the decision is, state officials would like an issue as soon as possible to get things moving with the Superfund — a federal program designed to clean up areas contaminated with hazardous substances and pollutants.

“When you make a decision in the Superfund project, it gives you the most time to influence the product and that’s where we are. The state has already stepped in to quarterback this discussion,” said Mark Mills, a wildlife biologist for the DNR. “So, we would be here to talk about the process either way. But the sooner the decision, the sooner that we can start working on these products.”

If the full removal of the dam moves forward, the earliest construction would start is around 2024.

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