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Public hearing Monday on Pucker Street Dam

Published 7:30am Friday, May 16, 2014

A public hearing will be held Monday in Niles concerning the removal of the Pucker Street Dam, a former hydroelectric dam that has been inoperable for many years due to structural degradation.

The hearing is scheduled for 5:55 p.m. at Niles City Council Chambers, 1345 E. Main St.

The City of Niles is in the process of securing funding for the removal of the dam, which is located on the Dowagiac River north of Niles.

Removal is expected to take place in stages over the next couple years at an estimated cost of $2.5 million. Most of the funding for its removal and subsequent river restoration is expected to come from grants.

Ric Huff, city manager, said people with technical knowledge of the project would speak and answer questions at Monday’s public hearing.

“It’s an informational hearing,” he said. “We are going to periodically schedule them to keep people in the loop. The more we keep property owners informed and the community informed, the more buy in we will have for the program.”

Also Monday, the city council will consider accepting a $200,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for the removal of the dam.

The grant has already been awarded to the city. All that is needed is for the council to accept it.

Niles has several grants pending for the dam’s removal, including a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fish Passage grant ($200,000), Great Lakes Fish Habitat Partnership grant ($100,000), Great Lakes Fishery Trust grant ($200,000) and Sustain our Great Lakes grant ($250,000), according to the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission.

Huff said he expects to learn the status of the grants by the end of June or early July.

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