Council to consider efforts to remove dams, clean up Mahoning River

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Youngstown City Council will be asked to spend $83,000 to improve the Mahoning River — which is not the open sewer it used to be.

On Wednesday, council will be asked to invest in a study that would look into removing several dams running through the city.

Crossing the Mahoning River under an abandoned train tressel adjacent to what was the U.S. Steel Ohio Works, is the Crescent Street dam — one of three dams on the Mahoning through Youngstown that need to be demolished.

“We’d like to get them removed, clean up some of the sediment behind them, make the river more accessible to folks for recreational purposes,” Mayor John McNally said.

People are now using the steel industry’s old dumping grounds for fun.

Don Rex often kayaks the Mahoning River.

“People have just seen that there is more interest in it now and people are appreciating the great natural resource that we have here,” he said.

Patricia Dunbar, with Friends of the Mahoning River, said she wanted to jump up and down when she heard Youngstown was commissioning the study.

She said the major issue will be removing the contaminated sediment left over from the steel days behind the dams.

“It’s not a hazardous waste but it would be considered a solid waste, and so it would have to be pulled out and kept from escaping.”

Between Leavittsburg in Trumbull County and Lowellville in Mahoning, there are nine dams that Friends of the Mahoning River would like removed. Two are in Warren and there’s one in Leavittsburg, Girard, Struthers, and Lowellville. The three in Youngstown are at Crescent Street, Marshall Street, and Center Street.

The $83,000 to pay for the study is coming from a $2 million fund the city has from a bankruptcy settlement.

“We think we can get funding through the LTV bankruptcy settlement, or perhaps through the state or some other resources to get the dams removed and make the Mahoning River a lot more accessible to more people who want to use it more frequently,” McNally said.

Lowellville has already been approved the money to remove its dam. It’s not known when that work will begin.