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SG-W:/ AA NEWS: Dam removal approved

                      Dam removal approved

                      Wednesday, February 14, 2001

                      By CHONG W. PYEN
                      NEWS STAFF REPORTER

                      The Dexter Village Council this week approved the
removal of the
                      landmark Mill Creek dam, clearing the way for a
free-flowing stream
                      and extra open space for park and recreational

                      The dam's removal, recommended by a citizen task
force last month, will
                      coincide with the replacement of a bridge attached to
the dam, said John
                      Coy, village president.

                      "We're able to be proactive with this. These projects
will dovetail
                      together so the dam could be removed while the bridge
is replaced," Coy

                      The bridge, owned by the Washtenaw County Road
Commission, is
                      being replaced with a new structure to the west of
the current bridge.

                      The dam, first built 177 years ago and replaced with
a new dam and
                      spillways in 1932, has been the focus of community
debate for years.
                      The dam, bridge and pond are on the northwest edge of
the downtown
                      area. Residents and environmentalists are concerned
that the decaying
                      dam might cause an ecological disaster if it breaks
because of the
                      sediment accumulated in the bottom of the pond
created by the dam.

                      After the dam is removed, the pond area will be
reclaimed as a park. It
                      will be linked to a 5.2-mile-long, 10-foot-wide
hiking and biking trail
                      along the western banks of the Huron River all the
way to Hudson Mills
                      Metropark. The trail is to be built by the
Huron-Clinton Metropolitan

                      "We're going to have large open space from the pond
that represents
                      recreational and educational opportunities that are
not utilized right
                      now," said Coy.

                      But it will be a while before that becomes a reality.

                      The new bridge isn't likely to be finished until 2004
or 2005.

                      And the village has to prove beyond the reasonable
doubt who owns the
                      dam and should pay for its removal.

                      So far, the village has disclaimed ownership. It's
likely funds will be
                      sought from the Michigan Department of Transportation
for the dam's
                      removal, or through cost-sharing among parties
involved in the
                      development of the park.

Mary Beth Doyle, MPH
Environmental Health Project
Ecology Center
117 N. Division
Ann Arbor MI 48104

734-663-2400 ext 108
734-663-2414 (fax)

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