YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown’s McKelvey Lake was one of a series of lakes built 100 years ago by steel companies to provide fresh water. Now, the lake has been sold, and it ended up with the City of Youngstown.

Mayor Tito Brown unlocked the gate Monday on the city’s newest possession. He wanted our cameras to see the dam. It’s an impressive structure, a mini Hoover Dam, but is hidden from view.

“I think you’ll see it is a natural piece that was put together that is worth saving,” Brown said. ” I think doing nothing was not an option for us here.”

The dam needs to be repaired. Its previous owner, Aqua Ohio, no longer had a need for McKelvey Lake, so there was talk of draining the lake and making it a wetland.

“When I heard that, I said that is something we could not do,” Brown said.

Enter the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, which secured a $1.1 million grant to buy the lake from Aqua Ohio and then gave it to the city. The deal was finalized a week ago. But who will fix the dam?

“Part of the agreement was that Aqua will fix it up to modern-day standards. Aqua is spending about $1.5 million,” said Aqua Ohio spokesperson Jeff LaRue.

Youngstown City Councilman Jimmy Hughes can see the lake out his front window. He’s pleased the city now owns it. He knows the kind of economic development a lake like McKelvey can bring.

“It’s a lot of land around it that we can do something with,” Hughes said. “They sold a house right down the street here for over $300,000 this month, and it goes into the lake. I’m sure that had a factor in this.”

Brown said some citizens are talking about putting a boat launch in and other amenities.

“Natural walking paths, bike paths, so there are some opportunities that we think are going to happen,” he said.

The city will now be responsible for maintaining the lake.

The repairs to the dam should be done by the end of next year.

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