KINSMAN TWP., Ohio (WKBN) – Homeowners living around what was Kinsman Lake were told their road will be fixed but their lake will not be.
The news came at a public meeting Thursday night, almost four weeks after heavy rain washed away part of the dam and road. It left people in the Lakelands neighborhood with no way to get back home.
Trumbull County Engineer Randy Smith stood before the 75 people at the township hall Thursday and told them Kinsman Lake will not be refilled.
“The lake itself will simply act, more so, as probably a detention pond to some extent, where it’s going to back up water. But as far as specifically impounding water, that’s not going to happen as part of this project.”
Two miles away, what was Kinsman Lake has been reduced to a stream — the breached dam and washed-out road reminders of what happened there July 20.
Smith said the road will be fixed but using government money to repair the dam is illegal because the dam is owned by the Lakelands Association.
“If there’s any intent to restore the lake using public money, that’s an issue and they’re not going to grant public money for that purpose.”
Skip LaPlante, president of the Lakelands Association, spoke for the fire chief in an effort to get more water.
“Whether or not we could put the elevation five feet to retain enough for firefighting in the township,” he said.
But Smith made it clear the lake would not be filled.
One woman was concerned about the safety of the people going back and forth to their homes right now.
“We are one step away from another disaster. An individual disaster,” she said.
State Senator Sean O’Brien said every time he talks with a government official, he stresses how people are living.
“They have been out of their homes for three weeks now. This is unacceptable, I want you to know that. We have stressed that every time we have talked to them.”
O’Brien also said there’s a chance the people affected could qualify for disaster relief. That’s something Governor Mike DeWine will decide sometime next week.
The total cost of the repairs is $1,850,000.
O’Brien said a million of that has been or is close to being secured. There was no indication where the remaining $850,000 will come from. No one could say if the work could begin before all the money is in place.