By Jeffery L Carey Jr.
The crumbling 98-year-old Hamilton Dam on the Flint River is coming down.
Currently under demolition, the deteriorated old structure finally is being removed from its position just north of the University of Michigan-Flint campus, with the Fabri Dam further west slated for removal as well. The Hamilton Dam has been a safety concern for many years as the integrity of the dam has been failing.
The removal of the dam is part of a larger overall project, the Flint River Corridor Remediation Project, an estimated $38 million plan not just to remove the obsolete and potentially dangerous dams from the river but also return the river to a more natural ecology.
The “re-wilding” of the Flint River Corridor will allow, according to information provided on the Flint River Restoration Project (FRRP) website, the “rejuvenation of the river and riverfront through the creation of water-based recreational opportunities, park improvements, underutilized property redevelopment, enhanced community connectivity, ecosystem restoration and improved storm-water/flood control”.
According to the FRRP, water-based recreational opportunities will include whitewater rapids built into the Flint River with greater public access for canoeing and kayaking. Also described by the FRRP is an improved ecology with access for fish, crayfish, snails, and other organisms to move freely upstream, thus improving the conditions of the Flint River for fishing.
The project is being managed by the City of Flint and Genesee County Parks and Recreation. Deborah Wilkes, the Administrative Secretary at Genesee County Parks & Recreation has stated that while work is under way on the Hamilton Dam, weather conditions have made it difficult for them to provide an up-to-date timeline for the project.
“Unfortunately, at this time we do not have an updated timeline. The recent weather and flooding has delayed the start. We are hoping to have an updated schedule next week,” Wilkes said.
While work has been slowed, Davis Construction, a contractor out of Lansing, has been performing demolition on the north bank of the river. Much of the area has been fenced off to pedestrians, with the pedestrian bridge remaining open to foot traffic.
EVM staff writer Jeffery L. Carey, Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.