Ypsilanti officials hosted a town hall meeting on April 27, to update residents of Ypsilanti about their progress in the removal of the Peninsular Paper Dam across the Huron River.
The public town hall that was held at the Ypsilanti Freighthouse, was met with a crowd of residents split between those who support the dam removal, and those who are not yet ready to let it go.
The dam, built in 1867 and rebuilt in 1920, once provided power for paper manufacturing for Peninsular Paper Co. In the mid-1980s, the dam was donated to the city of Ypsilanti, but it now poses a safety threat and harms the environment.
A feasibility study was conducted in September 2018 and was presented to the City of Ypsilanti. The City Council held a Town Hall meeting in February 2019 to let residents of Ypsilanti know the results of the study and to get feedback on how to move forward. In the study, they found that the total cost of removing the dam was around $2.7 million. Meanwhile, the cost of repairing the dam was found to be nearly $807,000.
According to the City of Ypsilanti, “the City is required to pay for inspections and repairs of the dam so it has fewer funds to spend on community programs and infrastructure. Also, since the dam harms the river and wildlife, the quality of life in the community is compromised.”
Overall, the removal of the dam will benefit native fish species and officials will have to find new ways to manage invasive species as the area above the dam begins to “green up.” Fish like walleye, white bass, and smallmouth bass will continue to benefit.
Officials also discussed how the dam affects residents and businesses of Ypsilanti and how the removal of the dam would benefit said individuals. Huron River Watershed Council, the city’s partner for the removal, also presented a plan for the environmental restoration of the area above the dam.
The removal will allow for the expansion of Peninsular Park, and the city wants the resident’s voices to be heard in the process of narrowing down their vision over the next year. This could include the preservation of the Peninsular Paper Dam building with the infamous neon sign.
For study reports, plans, and more resources, visit the Huron River Watershed Council website.