Ensuring Dam Is Not a Danger

Someone qualified to inspect dams needs to examine the one at Epworth Park in Bethesda soon. And if it proves to have deteriorated as severely as a woman living near it believes, state officials should take emergency measures to repair it.

During their meeting last week, Bethesda Village Council members were told that if they do not do something about the dam, a lawsuit will be filed against the municipality.

That vow came from Stephanie Castello, whose home is on Willow Street near the dam. Castello said the earthen embankment at the dam is leaking badly. “We had two feet of water in our basement again this week because of that overflow,” she told village officials. “I understand money is tight, but it’s going to be far less costly to repair it than it is going to be to pay the damages if someone’s killed.”

Mayor Martin Lucas agreed the dam, leased by the village from the East Ohio Methodist Conference, needs to be repaired.

Initially, however, he said the impoundment has been inspected annually and has passed.

Later, Lucas said he may have been thinking of inspections at another dam. He is not certain when the one at Epworth Park was inspected last.

Village officials are seeking state funding to make repairs to the dam. But, said Service Director Dirk Davis, “It takes time.”

“We can’t just snap our fingers and make this happen. I wish we could,” added Lucas.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been contacted about the problem, the mayor said. Good. Surely the Corps has an inspector who can, within a few days, take a look at the dam. Or, perhaps, someone in state government is qualified to do that.

Something needs to be done about the dam quickly, if only to reassure all involved it poses no immediate danger.

If it does, someone in Columbus had better snap his or her fingers and provide money for repairs immediately.

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