BUCKEYE LAKE – Though the odds seem stacked against it, Buckeye Lake Mayor Clay Carroll stressed during Tuesday night’s Buckeye Lake Village Council meeting that the annual Lakefest will definitely take place Saturday, June 20.
This year’s Lakefest will be smaller than in years past but council members don’t want to allow the celebration to fade away, partially as a tribute to its creator, the late John Sproat, who passed away unexpectedly Jan. 26, and as a sign of solidarity as the entire lake area struggles with the ODNR-mandated low water level. It is difficult to launch boats at the North Shore boat ramp where the fest has been held the last two years.
Adding to the challenges, Carroll said the disc jockey scheduled had backed out due to a double booking. Council clerk Valerie Hans recommended a replacement.
“This may be a chance for everyone around the lake to become mobilized,” said council member Peggy Wells. She suggested contacting Buckeye Lake Area Chamber of Commerce President Tim Ryan. “The chamber could be supportive,” Wells said. She mentioned January’s Winterfest, which successfully involved businesses and organizations surrounding Buckeye Lake.
“We’re going to keep it small this year,” said council member Barry Herron. He said Phantom Fireworks is keeping its commitment to donate a fireworks show.
Carroll said the Lakefest committee should schedule a meeting for more discussion. He added that the Buckeye Lake Youth Association is working on the event as well. Carroll said most vendors backed out of the event when Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced plans to replace Buckeye Lake Dam, but he now believes some may reconsider.
Council President Jeryne Peterson said it’s important that Lakefest and other annual events to continue and find new ways to be successful during the next five or more years as the dam is being replaced.
“We can move mountains if we work together,” she said, adding that the ODNR can take away the lake’s water, but not residents’ spirit.
In other village news:
• Peterson said a hydraulic evaluation of the Buckeye Lake Dam commissioned by the Buckeye Lake Region Chamber of Commerce (which was presented at the annual Full Pool Breakfast May 22) found that the Dam meets recommended “stability factors of safety” at 890.75 lake level.
That level is two feet above ODNR’s new definition of winter pool of 888.75, two feet, three inches above the May 20 lake level of 888.50 and just one foot below normal summer pool. Boaters would be able to navigate the lake and most canals, with caution, at that level. It would also make ODNR’s dredging operations easier and ease removal of some docks on the earthen dam.
Rizzo Associates of Pittsburgh conducted the study that was funded by the chamber, several other lake-wide nonprofit organizations, homeowner associations and private donations. ODNR contracted with Rizzo in 1997 to assess the dam’s ability to retain the probable maximum flood (PMF).
Peterson said raising the lake two feet would improve boating conditions and help the lake area businesses survive the next several summers until the dam is repaired.
Buckeye Lake Fire Depart- ment Captain Dave Ruton asked Peterson if her comments regarding the water level were her own or was she representing the village. She said she was sharing comments from Dr. Rizzo, noting that it will be available for for anyone to read. Peterson said the comment about working together is her own. Ruton said she didn’t answer his question.
Wells said she was impressed with Rizzo’s May 22 presentation. She noted that he is an internationally recognized dam expert. Wells said the report should assure community members, including children, that they are not at risk from an imminent dam failure. That should help them sleep easier.
• Herron said there was a crime spree over weekend in the village that left his, Carroll’s and other homes damaged.. He said his recreational vehicle was severely damaged. The vandals used spray paint to deface homes and other property. The incident is under investigation.
• Buckeye Lake Fire Department Chief Pete Leindecker said the Newark Eagles donated $300 to the department.
• Council member Kitty Zwissler said the village has sign up sheets, available at the village office and on the village web site, for residents wanting to have a community garden. The gardens will be located at the village’s water tower property along Mill Dam Road. The community garden program is being funded through the 2015 Creating Healthy Communities (CHC) grant from the Ohio Department of Health.