New proposal aims to remove North Lansing Dam

LANSING, Mich. (WILX) – An iconic part of Lansing’s Old Town neighborhood may be going away.

The Lansing Board of Water and Light owns the North Lansing Dam on the Grand River. It’s next to Burchard Park, but it’s not used to generate power. A new proposal may lead to the removal of the dam.

The dam can be a safety hazard to people on the river and in the area. A kayaker became trapped underwater on the north side of the dam in 2018 and drowned. Experts said the North Lansing Dam is a risk for flooding and failure.

Related: Should we be worried about dam collapses in Mid-Michigan?

So what does the Lansing Board of Water and Light do with it?

“You know, what would be the safest for them and how do we protect our people? If we move the dam, how do we protect the people that may get an influx of water, you know?” asked hazard mitigation coordinator Ken Hall. “And then, what do we do to our residents that may see a recession of water?

Removing the dam could help wildlife flourish, in part because the faster flow would help the river clean itself.

“If the changes will make a difference in the quality of the water for the river, bring more fish in some way, shape, or form, I guess we need to give it a chance,” said Lansing resident Guillermo Lopez.

It’s not that simple of a question. A task force is looking through the pros and cons of all the options.

“Complete removal, that may be one option. Another option can be partial removal,” Hall said. “When you have partial removal, that means you may remove half of it, but you may keep in — not necessarily a part of the dam — but you may put in some man-made aesthetic.”

But there’s one question that’s on the mind of taxpayers in Lansing.

“Rather taking the dam out, how much is that going to cost versus what we’re going to gain?” asked Lansing resident Kathy Holcomb.

People involved in the proposal said funding from the federal government may cover up to $15 million in the cost.

Related: A look at how safe dams are across Michigan

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