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Council to considered proposals, future of village dam, mill pond

by David Fleet

January 23, 2013

Goodrich-A century ago this summer, water from the Kearsley Creek was first dammed and a mill was built to produce locally ground wheat for area farmers.

A hundred years later the mill is long gone, but Goodrich Dam still holds back the Kearsley Creek, forming the mill pond. However, its usefulness and soundness have deteriorated over the years.

In January 2001 the Michigan Department of Natural Resources released a report recommending 21 of Michigan's estimated 2,500 dams—including the ones in Goodrich and Atlas—be torn down, allowing the Kearsley Creek to return to its original state.

At 7 p.m., Jan. 31, a special village council meeting at the community room, 7338 South State Road, will be held for a presentation by the Flint-based engineering firm of WadeTrim to discuss the future of the dam.

Village Councilman Pete Morey, who has overseen the village dam for almost a decade, said the 100-years-old construction is still pretty remarkable, but needs many upgrades.

"In 2008 when repairs were made on the Hegel Road bridge, 20 yards of concrete was pumped into the dam," he said. "The old dam is not going to last forever. The state is aware of the problems and made a recommendation for some substantial changes."

The dam operates with five wooden flood plane gates—three move up and down to regulate the amount of water and the level of the mill pond. Two gates remain stationary.

"The state inspector wants those two stationary gates removed and replaced with moveable gates," he said. "The cost and time would be substantial—the mill pond would have to be drained for several weeks, a track for the gates would have to be built to fit the opening. I would estimate the cost to exceed $25,000."

"With the needs of the dam in mind it's time to put a plan together even if it takes eight to 10 years to complete," he said. "The state needs to see we, as a village and community, are working on rectifying the issue. They (the state) are concerned for the folks down stream from the dam and allowing more water to go through—the water has to move quicker."

Morey said that in May 2012 about seven inches of rain fell in a short period.

"We lowered the level of the 240 acre pond and it refilled in about three hours," he said. "Someone downstream is going to be flooded."

Morey said the Thursday meeting will be the beginning of the project.

"The dam will be 22 feet high and we have some options right now to look at," he said. "There will be some grants available, but we need to start now. The key will be getting the communities involved."

Last July Jason Kenyon, engineer and vice-president for WadeTrim, offered some suggestions for replacement of the 100-year-old dam.

During that village meeting, Kenyon said that the state will help tear down the dam rather than build it up.

"The key will be to have a plan of what to do with the dam, then go after the funding necessary to make it happen. It's not failing today, but within five years it could be gone."