County still ‘hopeful’ some dam repairs could begin this fall

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Now that the public hearings are over and an assessment district has been established through the Lenawee County Circuit Court to help finance repairs and maintenance on the Red Mill Dam, the Lenawee County Drain Commission is in the process of applying for permits needed to begin the work.

“We’re putting together the application to the state for the permit to draw down the pond,” said Stephen May, Lenawee County Drain Commissioner. “While that’s going on, some of the design work can commence.”

May said approval from the state could take a few months, but there is still a possibility of moving forward with the drawdown and beginning some of the work yet this fall.

Judge Margaret Noe heard comments from the public at a March 18 hearing in her courtroom prior to confirming a legal lake level and special assessment roll of 49 property owners who would share the costs.

“Right now, my office and some of the residents on the Red Mill Pond are also in the process of writing to our legislators — both state and federal — to see if there might be any funding available that would help fund this project,” said May. “We certainly want to try to leverage any and all grants that might be available to help with this.”

The county, which took ownership of the Red Mill Dam in December, is working with Fishback, Thompson, Carr and Huber (FTC&H), an engineering firm from Grand Rapids. A proposal prepared by FTC&H regarding dam repairs earlier in the process had a price tag of approximately $315,000. May said the actual costs would be better known once the project reaches the bidding stage.

The county has also applied for a Fisheries and Wildlife grant to cover the cost, up to $200,000, of a fish ladder so fish could get past the dam for spawning and repopulation purposes. The county’s grant writer is also assisting May in seeking funding possibilities.

“There is some expediency to get some of the minor repairs going, and we hope to at least start some of those this fall,” May said. “We’re going to explore all avenues to help finance the project.”

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