SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — A community-centered planning process to redesign up to 60 acres of potential parks around Horseshoe Lake begins with two public forums later this month.
The lake bed itself comprises about 12 acres of that expanse, but has been drained since 2019 due to “significant issues with the structural integrity of the 170-year-old earth dam,” said Matthew Scharver, deputy director of Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District Watershed Programs. Shaker Heights City Council Monday (August 8).
As part of its year-long pre-design phase led by civil engineers and a landscape architecture firm tasked with re-meandering the North and Middle Branches of Doan Brook through the park, the Sewer District will host a virtual public forum from 6 to 7:30 p.m. August 25.
Zoom platform registration details will be available on the project webpage, neorsd.org/doan-brook-restoration-near-horseshoe-lake-park/.
The sewer district will then hold an open house from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on August 27, with seven tents set up in Horseshoe Lake Park – information stations that will include topics such as dam removal and sediments, the historical and ecological context, as well as to consider the future park, among others.
From there, NEORSD and its pre-design team plan to hold a second public forum in early December and a third later in the spring before moving into another year of detailed design. Construction of the $14 million project is expected by the end of 2024.
The work will be fully funded by the sewer district, which will also take care of the maintenance of the restored waterways. An additional $13.6 million will be spent downstream to rebuild the dam and dredge Lower Shaker Lake.
By contrast, the cities of Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights, which jointly lease the park from the City of Cleveland, would have to foot the bill for any plans to maintain a dam — and lake — in Horseshoe, an effort by preservation which still has its strong supporters. The group retained its own civil engineer and a lawyer.
A point of contention remains the amount of sediment that will be removed or reworked around the lake basin, which has been dredged for decades leaving a 12 to 15 foot buildup.
“As we drill the streambeds, it will provide plenty of opportunities for regrading” the site, Scharver told Shaker’s board.
Plans call for two 20-foot-wide canals, each set in watershed “valleys” measuring 275 to 300 feet in width and separated by a comparable strip of parkland down the middle.
Councilor Nancy Moore pointed out that the August 27 Open House will coincide with the 10th Annual “Take to the Lake” event hosted by the Doan Brook Watershed Partnership on Lower Shaker Lake from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., featuring canoeing and kayaking, hiking, yoga and music.
Responding to questions from Shaker Heights Vice Mayor Sean Malone about the proposed width of the rechanneled stream beds being manageable, given that their width is less than that upstream, Scharver noted that the creek is widening. downstream.
Asked by Alderman Ifeolu AC Claytor about the potential depth of the streams, Scharver said “Doan Brook should not be any deeper than it is now – deep enough to channel water velocity” according rainfall amount to provide necessary stormwater management to University Circle and Lake Erie.
Councilman Earl Williams noted that the sewer district’s original purpose dealt with an emergency created by the failure of the Horseshoe Lake Dam to contain the threat of flooding.
“Who do you have to convince that your model is effective?” Williams asked, referring to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which ordered the 2019 drainage of Horseshoe Lake, and possibly the US Army Corps of Engineers as well.
Scharver said the sewer district continues to work with the ODNR and appears to be “in good standing” with its initial plans.
“And when we have a specific alternative, we will focus on specific agencies,” Scharver added, noting that minor work will also be required on the downstream channel leading to the Shaker Lakes Nature Center.
Sewer district officials and their consultants plan to return with three different restoration proposals to be developed through the upcoming community engagement process.
This led to a similar response to a question from Mayor David Weiss about “the mechanics (involved) for the removal of the dam itself, will that be the last thing that will happen?”
Scharver said the sequence will “in part depend on the selected alternative” for restoration as the project progresses to detailed design.
Meanwhile, as the sewer district issued a public advisory Monday night for Edgewater Beach after heavy rain caused a combined sewer overflow (CSO) into Lake Erie, Lake Horseshoe appeared to have dodged a bullet.
“We performed an inspection of Horseshoe Lake Dam on Tuesday morning and there was no immediate sign that the emergency spillway had activated,” Shaker Heights Public Works Director Patti Speese said.
As a “temporary solution” to guard against “overflow” and potential failure of the existing dam, Shaker commissioned a $475,000 emergency spillway completed earlier this year and paid for by the sewer district.
In March, the breach and the spillway had already activated twice. But that didn’t seem to be the case Monday night, with NEORSD estimating about 1.2 inches of rather sudden rainfall in the region.
“The rock covering the emergency spillway was not moved and the channel was clear of debris,” Speese said. “However, based on our previous experience, there was enough precipitation from last night’s rain to activate the emergency breach.”
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