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Grant to fund removal of Pucker Street Dam

Published 9:25am Thursday, April 17, 2014

Niles awaiting word on other grants for $2.5 million project

Niles is the recipient of a $200,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources that will go toward the removal of the deteriorating Pucker Street Dam.

Ric Huff, city manager, said it is one of several grants the city has applied for to fund the estimated $2.5 million project.

“We have four additional grants still pending,” Huff said. “It is definitely a project that is very high on the list for these Michigan DNR and U.S. Fish and Wildlife programs. We are definitely being encouraged to keep applying for these grants and it is very hopeful that we will get them.”

Niles was denied on an application for a MDNR Dam Management Grant.

“We knew from the offset that we probably weren’t going to get that money, but we wanted to get our name on the table for next year,” Huff said.

The city’s hope is to pay for all but $280,000 of the entire project with grants.

“We expect to apply for grants over the next two years,” he said. “It will probably be a two-year process to pay for the removal.”

The more than 80-year-old Pucker Street Dam originally generated electricity, but is no longer operable due to structural degradation. It became a popular fishing location, however it poses a potential safety threat to those around it in the case of collapse. Proposed restorations were deemed economically infeasible, so the city sought state and federal funding to assist with its removal.

The dam demolition is expected to be done in stages, possibly beginning in late 2015.

The city has held a public meeting for people owning property in areas that may be affected by the demolition project.

Huff said the meeting was well attended, with about 20 to 25 people showing up.

“There were three people that were upset about the process, but the vast majority were supportive of it,” he said.

The $200,000 grant was from the newly formed Aquatic Habitat Grant Program. This is the first grant cycle of the program since its inception in January, which aims to protect and rehabilitate Michigan’s aquatic resources and develop self-sustaining aquatic communities to promote recreation and economic growth. The Pucker Street Dam Removal is one of eight projects being funded by the program in 2014, which total a $1 million investment in Michigan’s natural resources.

The Aquatic Habitat Grant Program is funded with revenue from the sales of newly simplified hunting and fishing licenses. More information about this and other Department of Natural Resources grants is available online at


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