Point Place residents protest wetlands planWritten by Mary Petrides and Betsy Woodruff | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Point Place citizens expressed discontent with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal to build 8-to-12-foot dikes and create wetlands in the area.
At a June 29 meeting, the corps proposed various ways of using sediment dredged from the Maumee River to create wetlands instead of dumping it in Lake Erie. The sediment dumps cause environmental problems, making the water murky so fish have trouble finding food, said Mike Shelton, chief of external affairs with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Jay Miller, a biologist for the corps working on the project, said only one of the corps’s proposals used more than one year’s worth of sediment.
The corps needs to find a permanent solution to the sediment problem instead of building dikes and making wetlands in Point Place, said Toledo City Councilwoman Lindsay Webb.
The dikes would limit citizens’ views of the water and some of the corps’ proposals would make part of Cullen Park into wetlands.
“I’m not sure turning a public park into a marshy swamp is a solution,” Webb said.
She said another downside to the dikes is that they would substantially limit the use of the boat launch in Point Place, which is the only public boat launch on the Maumee Bay in Toledo.
She said she believes the corps wants to make wetlands in order to get federal funding for the sediment disposal.
The federal government will fund 65 percent of the project. The remaining 35 percent must come from a nonfederal source like the City of Toledo, the city of Oregon or Lake Township.
Miller said it could be a year or two before the Corps decides which, if any, proposal to use.
“I can appreciate that people don’t want this in their backyard,” Miller said.
“We’ll have to determine if we even want to move forward with Cullen Park,” he said.
Craig Forgette, the project manager, said the hardest part of the project will be finding a nonfederal sponsor to pay for the remaining 35 percent of the project.
Gary Anderson, a real estate broker and the president of the Point Place Business Association, said most of the corps’ proposals would turn the water around Cullen Park into wetlands. Webb said that all of the proposals would adversely affect the park.
Anderson said this would lower property values and limit the community’s ability to use the park.
He said Cullen Park is the location of many community events, including flag-raising ceremonies, canoe races and outdoor church services. Most of those could not continue if the water near the park became wetlands.
“It would drive away a lot of people that are using the park,” Anderson said.
Webb said she does not believe there is enough public support for the Corps’ plans.
Miller said the leaders of the project will continue having public meetings until they find a consensus on a way to solve the problem.