Letters: Removal of Gorge Dam is a win-win; Ohio's elected officials seek more power

Dam removal to help environment

A Nov. 20 letter ("Relocating problems in parks") expressed concern that sediment behind the Gorge Dam will create problems when moved to a nearby park. At Summit Metro Parks, our mission is to conserve natural resources for the health and enjoyment of our community. We take this responsibility seriously, which is why we’re leading a group of local, state and federal stakeholders carefully studying how to remove the dam and manage the associated sediment.

The 100-year-old Gorge Dam no longer serves any useful purpose — in fact, it’s the largest unresolved water quality impediment on our Cuyahoga River. Removing it will significantly improve wildlife habitat, create recreational opportunities, drive economic development and reveal the Big Falls for which Cuyahoga Falls is named.

With federal funding available through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, local taxes will be unaffected by the dam removal project — a true win-win. But to remove the dam, we must first relocate the sediment behind it. Containing toxins reflective of our industrial past, these sediments are currently in direct contact with fish and other wildlife in Gorge Metro Park. By safely confining them at Cascade Valley Metro Park, human health and wildlife will be protected in perpetuity. There, they will be capped, contoured and planted to complement the park’s natural beauty.

The project has broad support from elected officials, local businesses and organizations and the public. After more than a decade of studying this problem, today we have a unique opportunity to secure federal funding to remove this water quality impediment, restore a free-flowing river and improve recreational opportunities for fishing, kayaking and more. Failure to seize this moment would be environmentally irresponsible and likely result in a burden for future local taxpayers.

To learn more about the effort to remove the dam and stay updated, please visit bit.ly/freethefalls.

Mike Johnson, chief of conservation, Summit Metro Parks

Lack of balance in state government

Ohio voted to further the lockstep regime of a partisan supermajority in all three branches of state government, executive, both legislative houses and the Ohio Supreme Court. We continue to lack balance in our government that would invite a healthy tension and an atmosphere for differing ideas and substantive debate. This election outcome was partly aided by the current illegal gerrymandered district maps orchestrated by the supermajority. Republican arrogance, emboldened by voter support and PAC funding, furthers their extreme policies with little power to oppose.

It is fair to surmise that Ohio is no longer considered a bellwether state; we are not purple. We are solidly identified among the list of ultraconservative states.

Ohio’s secretary of state is empowered to administer elections by creating operational policies and enforcing laws and penalties. The position affects every level of representative government and impacts every citizen with election outcomes. It is a partisan office that should operate independently for fair and legal elections but bears partisan influence to keep and gain power. The secretary of state sits on the Ohio Redistricting Commission charged with drawing constitutional legislature district maps. It is a very powerful role in state government.

The Republican-sponsored House Bill 294 increases voter suppression. Secretary of State Frank LaRose and state Rep. Brian Stewart are backing a constitutional amendment grandly titled the Ohio Constitution Protection Amendment. It is proposed under the guise of fighting outside influence but covertly increases requirements for citizen petitioning, thereby hindering citizen-initiated constitutional amendments. Luckily, we get to vote on the amendment. Will we suppress our own ability to petition our state government?

Pat Simons, Hudson

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Summit Metro Parks clarifies Gorge Dam removal and funding