Ypsilanti Town Notifies Residents of Peninsular Paper Dam Removal

Ypsilanti officials held a town hall on April 27 to update Ypsilanti residents on their progress in removing the Peninsular Paper Dam across the Huron River.

The public town hall held at the Ypsilanti Freighthouse welcomed a crowd of residents divided between those who support the removal of the dam and those who are not yet ready to let it go.

The dam, built in 1867 and rebuilt in 1920, once provided power for papermaking for Peninsular Paper Co. In the mid-1980s the dam was donated to the town of Ypsilanti, but it now represents a threat to security and harm to the environment.

A feasibility study was conducted in September 2018 and presented to the City of Ypsilanti. The City Council held a meeting at City Hall in February 2019 to update Ypsilanti residents on the results of the study and get feedback on how to move forward. In the study, they found that the total cost of removing the dam was approximately $2.7 million. Meanwhile, the cost to repair the dam was nearly $807,000.

According to the town of Ypsilanti, “the town is required to pay for inspections and repairs to the dam so that it has less funds to spend on community programs and infrastructure. Additionally, as the dam harms the river and wildlife, the community’s quality of life is compromised.

Overall, removing the dam will benefit native fish species, and officials will have to find new ways to manage invasive species as the area above the dam begins to “green.” Fish such as walleye, white bass and smallmouth bass will continue to benefit.

Officials also discussed how the dam affects residents and businesses of Ypsilanti and how removing the dam would benefit those people. The Huron River Watershed Council, the city’s partner for the removal, also submitted an environmental restoration plan for the area above the dam.

The removal will allow for expansion of Peninsular Park, and the city wants residents’ voices to be heard in the process of downsizing their vision over the next year. This could include preserving the Peninsular Paper Dam building with the infamous neon sign.

For study reports, plans and other resources, visit Huron River Watershed Council website.

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