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Shaker Heights residents propose plan to reconstruct failing dam at Horseshoe Lake

Save Horseshoe Lake sign on a resident's lawn across the street from Horseshoe Lake park
Annie Wu
Ideastream Public Media
The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District estimates the cost to remove Horseshoe Lake's failing dam is $28 million. The sewer district says the TRC proposal to reconstruct the dam does not include a cost estimate.

A group of Shaker Heights residents hoping to save Horseshoe Lake has come up with a new proposal, with the help of the engineering firm TRC, that they say would maintain the lake while also minimizing flood risks.

The proposal would reconstruct the dam with an adjusted spillway and a new emergency spillway. The hope is that the dam would be reclassified from where it currently stands as a Class 1 dam, which means that it possesses a great risk of flooding.

Beachwood resident Steve Bossin is on the Board of the Friends of Horseshoe Lake. He lived in Shaker Heights for 68 years, biking to the lake as a kid and celebrating many birthdays and anniversaries by its shores as an adult.

Sunrise over Horseshoe Lake
Annie Wu
Ideastream Public Media
The man-made Horseshoe Lake before it was drained. The sewer district plans to restore Doan Brook and return the lake to marshland and streams.

“Our plan is to provide a lake, a smaller lake, a lake that will retain the plant life and the animal life and continue to be an asset for the cities of Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights, and by extension communities around it that come to the Shaker Lakes to enjoy it,” Bossin said.

But the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District has proposed removing the man-made dam and restoring Doan Brook, returning the lake’s area to marshland and streams.

Bossin said his group has presented the new plan to both Shakers Heights and Cleveland Heights city councils.

“What we’re doing is saying there is an alternative that achieves what you want to do, and allows what we want to do and we should work together to achieve it.”

The sewer district said they met with TRC but the proposed plan does not meet stormwater management needs, nor does it include a cost estimate.

NEORSD is working to finalize an agreement for Doan Brook restoration work near Horseshoe Lake, according to a sewer district spokesperson.

The sewer disrict will be making a presentation about their plans at a Cleveland Heights City Council meeting Monday night, council President Melody Hart told Ideastream Public Media, and the Friends of Horseshoe Lake and TRC will be given an opportunity to present their proposal at a later date.

Ida Lieszkovszky is a freelance journalist based in Cleveland, Ohio. She covers an array of topics, including politics, education, and the environment. You can find her on Twitter @Ida_in_Cle.