State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) today pledged to continue his efforts to help prevent a dam breach and lake draining at Woodside Lake in Austintown. The parcel was initially up for public auction yesterday, but the county auditor’s office decided to remove it from the listing after hearing from state representatives and the public. If the property failed to sell at the auction, the lake – a precious natural gem for the surrounding community – would have been completely drained. 

“I am encouraged that we were able to get the auction on this property pushed back,” Rep. Boccieri said. “This gives us more time to work with all parties to achieve the best possible outcome, one that gives our local community the means to apply for grants that would fund the dam’s repair.” 

Boccieri was first informed of this potential outcome at a concerned citizens meeting he attended on Nov. 10. 

Property owners around the lake and other community members were seeking a source of funding to repair the lake’s dam, deemed Class 2 by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) because of the flooding risks associated with a breach. Rough repair estimates range from $500,000 to $1 million, according to assessments conducted by ODNR and other engineers. 

Since attending the meeting, Rep. Boccieri’s office has been pursuing all possible avenues of assistance for the lake and dam. Despite the fact that the dam did not meet federal requirements for a full environmental assessment, he and fellow Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) obtained an informal environmental assessment from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service describing the threats to surrounding wildlife if the dam fails. They also secured the interest of CT Consultants in conducting an engineering assessment of the property to better estimate repair costs. 

“We will continue to maintain the open lines of communication we have with the surrounding property owners about the lake as we move forward,” Boccieri said. “Our next steps are to gather the technical information we have, continue to work with all parties to ensure a favorable purchase of the property that is beneficial for all involved, and secure funding for the dam’s repair.” 

The auditor’s office stated that they will likely have to put the lake up for auction again in about 60 days, given it has been foreclosed for years and failed to sell in two previous sheriff’s sales. 

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