DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — It’s been in the works for more than five years, but the first of two dams is finally being removed.
City leaders voted to remove them in 2013, but a budget impasse put things on hold until now. Several aldermen say they had no idea it was already starting. They knew it would be this summer, but didn’t have a specific date.
People have mixed feelings. Steve Foster has been an alderman for years. He says he was an influential vote when the city decided to remove the dams.
“We were about 50/50, the city was. First, I wanted to keep the fishing thing, then I realized we had some possible problems.”
He says he realized if they didn’t tear it down, and turned down the money, the city would be liable if anyone died. During the last 35 years, seven people have been killed in the dams, so Foster says he ultimately chose to vote in favor of the removal.
“I think it’s good they tear it down because it is a safety factor.”
That vote was in 2013. Now, they’re finally starting to bring it down.
Fridel Gerbsch says he eats his lunch by the dam regularly. While he cares about people’s safety, he says tearing it down will change everything.
“It’s relaxing and it’s pretty and there’s only a couple spots in Danville that have a feature like this. Yeah, I’m not in favor.”
He says he kayaks and fishes on the river and the removal will make a huge difference.
“There are deeper holes, so when it gets cold, like when I’m kayaking in November, pretty much the only place I catch fish are below the dam.”
Regardless, the sign is up and the dams are officially coming down. Currently, it looks like only the one behind public works is being dealt with. No construction work was underway at Ellsworth Park.
Neither Illinois Natural Resource nor public works could be reached for comment.