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Shaker Heights And Cleveland Heights Communities Weigh Horseshoe Lake Dam Removal

On the "Sound of Ideas," we discuss the public discussion over the future of Horseshoe Lake in Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights. [wikimedia commons]
On the "Sound of Ideas," we discuss the public discussion over the future of Horseshoe Lake in Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights. [wikimedia commons]

Connecting the suburbs of Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights, the dam at Horseshoe Lake, also known as the "Upper Lake" of the Shaker Lakes, is more than 170 years old.

It stretches 615 feet from North Park Boulevard to South Park Boulevard. 

But according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, it's the age of this earthen dam that is a problem.
The ODNR oversees the state's Dam Safety Program, and in that capacity three years ago, required that Horseshoe Lake be drained due to safety concerns of the dam.

More recently, it determined the structure's problems couldn't be solved with minor repairs, that the repairs would have to be major. Findings included cracks in the masonry, and sinkholes that indicate that the dam is "unstable and deterioriating." 

Both the Lower and Upper Lake dams are classified as "Class 1" dams, meaning that if the dam were to  fail, it would cause probable loss of life to the densely populated downstream areas.

The cities of Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights jointly lease the lakes from the City of Cleveland, and are jointly responsible for maintaining compliance of the dams. They have made some minor changes over the years, but the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, which is in charge of regional stormwater management, has recently recommended the dam at Horseshoe Lake be removed, in essence turning the lake into a habitat of streams, and a vegetated floodplain. 

The Lower Lake's dam would be reconstructed to pass ODNR compliance and would remain a lake. The cost would be $28 million for both projects which the sewer district has said it can fully fund, if Shaker and Cleveland Heights approve this plan. 

But this is where it gets sticky. There is a groundswell of residents in Shaker and Cleveland Heights who want to save Horseshoe Lake, and are against the sewer district's plan. They say that removal would take away a valued aesthetic and historical asset to the community, and that the lake's removal could negatively impact local property values. 

Still, the Shaker Heights City Council voted last night to approve the Sewer District's recommendations. Ideastream Public Media Reporter Jenny Hamel reported that of two dozen Shaker Heights residents who spoke Monday night, most argued against a resolution supporting the sewer district's plan to remove the dam and lake. 

The city of Cleveland Heights on the other hand, is waiting for an outside consultant to review the sewer district's plan before giving a final yes or no vote. There is no date for when that would be completed.

This hour on the "Sound of Ideas," we're going to start by hearing both perspectives on the issue, from the head of the sewer district, as well as from a representative of the Save Horseshoe Lake group.

Then, a panel of experts will discuss issues with the global supply chain and how those delays are impacting you, the consumer.

-Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells, CEO, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District
-Anthony Coyne, Managing Partner, Mansour Gavin

-Ned Hill, Ph.D., Professor of Economic Development & Faculty, Ohio Manufacturing Institute, The Ohio State University
-Jay Chen, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Management, Cleveland State University 
-Christopher Mims, Technology Columnist, The Wall Street Journal, Author "Arriving Today: From Factory to Front Door – Why Everything Has Changed About How and What We Buy"

Rachel is the supervising producer for Ideastream Public Media’s morning public affairs show, the “Sound of Ideas.”