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A sailboa sits on a huge pile of debris and ice in the harbor of the Grand River, with the Fairport Harbor Lighthouse behind. (File photo: Chuck Crow, The Plain Dealer)

Grand River

PAINESVILLE, Ohio – Lake County will receive $11.3 million in state funding to construct a much-needed containment basin to store dredged material from the Grand River in Fairport Harbor.

Dredging in the harbor was halted last year as a result of a state law that prevents the disposal of dredged material from federal navigation channels into Lake Erie.

“That action posed a significant economic problem for the county,” David Anderson, executive director of the Lake Development Authority, stated in a news release. “This is Lake County’s only commercial port. Losing the ability to conduct maritime commerce threatens about 170 jobs and over $371 million of commodities handled through the port each year.”

More than 2 million tons of material passes through the port each year and transportation costs would have risen by more than $1 million with the loss of 1-2 feet of channel depth, according to Patrick Mohoric, chief financial officer and director of public finance for Lake Development Authority.

Several companies rely on the port, including Morton Salt, Osborne Concrete and Stone, Carmeuse Lime & Stone and R.W. Sidley.

“This dredging project is mission-critical for our local businesses to operate. It also preserves interstate and international commerce throughout rivers and harbors at a time when supply chains are life and death in terms of importance,” Lake County Commissioner John Plecnik stated in the release.

The dredging, which is performed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is scheduled to begin this summer.

The containment facility could also pave the way for the possible construction of a public trail along more than two miles of shoreline between Painesville Township Park and Fairport Harbor, according to Lake Metroparks Executive Director Paul Palagyi.

“The dredge facility and potential trial are a great example of different government agencies and private business working together to create a generational benefit for the general public,” Palagyi stated in the release.

The $11.3 million earmarked for Lake County is among $47 million authorized by Ohio’s Office of Budget and Management Controlling Board for the construction of confined placement facilities across the state.

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