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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 09/19/12
Oakland OKs review of
by STACY SOBOTKAThe Paint Creek Millrace, which has had no water flow in it since the removal of the Paint Creek Dam, will soon be on its way to possible restoration.
Observer Special Writer
A request for a proposal to proceed with analysis of the millrace and to set up meetings with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for its restoration was approved by the Oakland Township Board of Trustees at its meeting Sept. 11.
The Paint Creek Dam was removed in October 2011 by recommendation of the Clinton River Watershed Council (CRWC), as it was considered past its life expectancy.
It was stated by numerous engineers and experts that water would continue to flow into the millrace after the dam was removed. Residents who live along the millrace, however, found that no water has flowed into the millrace.
With the help of Township Trustee Mike Bailey, residents were able to get a third-party opinion from Jason Kenyon of the Detroit-based civil engineering firm Wade Trim. He provided an update on his findings to the board with the help of Jerry Mancour, who owned the Paint Creek Cider Mill from 1977 until he sold the mill to Ray and Mary Nicholson in 1997.
Bailey explained the township board and the residents should have been given more information about the outcome of the millrace flows and the final appearance of it after the dam removal.
"That point was never told that there would be zero water in the millrace after the dam was taken down," he said.
Bailey also believed that there should have been a plan to restore water flow and further research for grant funding to restore the millrace while the project took place.
"This definitely has been a controversial subject since day one," he said.
The plan is to remove sediment from the mill and millrace, then to restore the millrace and the mill wheel. If the mill wheel is restored, there is a possibility that the mill's turbine will be operable, and will be able to generate a small amount of electricity.
"We could use it for demonstrating for schoolchildren, (and) for exhibitions," said Mancour.
This would allow the township to pursue the possibility of designating the mill and millrace to the Federal National Register of Historic Places.
The preliminary projected costs were listed at $300,000.
"We believe these are conservative, but this is the level of detail that we need to work towards. This is just a starting point, but it gives the board a magnitude of cost to restore the millrace," he said.
Actual costs would be determined within the next few weeks and be presented to the board at a future meeting. The CRWC has agreed to help research grants to pay for the project.
Oakland Township resident Jan Olson rallied residents who lived along the millrace for its restoration, and urged the board to support the proposed project. The mill, especially its wheel, was a deciding factor for her in buying property along the millrace.
"It was an amazing sound to hear that wheel. The whole building would move. It was a thrill to hear that wheel," she said. "This is the icon of the community."
In other business, the Board of Trustees:
• Approved a recommendation to set the December 2012 tax levy.
• Approved the Older Persons Commission (OPC) budget.
• Approved the appointment of Sharon Creps as temporary OPC at-large citizen representative due to the resignation of Agnes Bochenek until a replacement can be found.
• Re-appointed Janine Saputo and Chair Jim Carter to the Planning Commission. Their terms will expire Oct. 1, 2015.
• Re-appointed Michael Tyler to the Zoning Board of Appeals. His term will expire Oct. 1, 2015.
• Approved the appointment of Joanna VanRaaphorst as the Rochester Area Youth Assistance (RAYA) representative to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Lisa Khoury.
• Approved a request for funding Oakland Township's portion of the RAYA budget.
• Agreed to further investigate issues on fracking by oil companies on public lands as suggested by Township Trustee Sharon McKay.