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Ashtabula Co. Primary Results Show Slim Lead For Parks Erosion Levy

Township Park in Ashtabula County has lost upwards of 50 feet of its shoreline to erosion along Lake Erie. [Tim Dubravetz / ideastream]
A sidewalk in Township Park hanging over the eroded shoreline, surrounded by barriers.

Ashtabula County residents tentatively approved a levy that would aid in fighting erosion along the Lake Erie shoreline in Geneva-on-the-Lake.

Unofficial Primary Day results show the levy ahead by fewer than 100 votes late Tuesday night, with a tally of 793 voters in favor and 729 against.

Any mail-in ballots postmarked by April 27 will be counted, even if they have not yet been received by county boards of elections. The results may change the slim margin.

The shoreline along Geneva-on-the-Lake and Geneva’s Township Park have lost dozens of feet of land to Lake Erie in recent months, said Amanda Briggs de Lavini, Geneva-on-the-Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director.

“The delayed levy vote really contributed to the kind of delay in our taking action here, so this couldn’t have come at a better time,” she said.

Township Park was hit hardest by the erosion, caused in part by a lack of ice coverage on Lake Erie this winter. The lake has taken more than 50 feet of land, and is putting local utility pipelines at risk as the water nears Old Lake Road in Geneva-on-the-Lake.

Springtime storms have continued to tear at the area, Briggs de Lavini said.

“Quite a bit more foot loss, probably another five or six feet,” she said. “Some of the larger trees that we have there are falling in at this point.”

The 1.25 mill levy would last five years. It’s earmarked for the Geneva Township Parks Service, and would provide funds for erosion protections.

The parks service has considered options for protecting the shoreline if the levy doesn’t pass, Briggs de Lavini said, but the measures would not be as effective.

“They’d just be Band-Aids, they wouldn’t be long-term at all, especially with the way the lake’s been acting,” Briggs de Lavini said. “We’re really banking on the levy passing.”

Previous estimates for protecting the shoreline called for around $1.3 million, but those estimates were made prior to this year’s accelerated land loss. The estimates also only covered public property, and did not address residential land loss.

The park’s Board of Trustees will meet Wednesday, after a final vote count, to discuss next steps, Briggs de Lavini said.