BY WARREN DILLAWAY
HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP — After 17 months the Harpersfield Lamprey Barrier construction is complete, said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Project manager Gabriel Schmidbauer.
“All major construction is complete,” Schmidbauer said during a telephone interview from his office in Buffalo, N.Y.
The first step of the project began in November of 2018 with the demolition of the north side of the former Harpersfield Dam and start of the construction for the barrier designed to protect fish. The project was stopped in the spring of 2019 so fish would be able to head back to the lake.
The construction of the south side of the barrier was then restarted during the summer of 2019.
“Right now we are moving into the phase of restoration of the land,” Schmidbauer said.
He said the process will entail making sure any construction-related damage to the property is restored.
The project budget was around $7 million and included $3.6 million for construction costs with the rest coming in preparation and restoration costs, Schmidbauer said at the start of the project.
“We are right at budget or a little below,” he said.
He said road restoration will also be completed in the northern parking lot adjacent to the dam.
The former dam was built in 1912 and had shown signs of significant deterioration that could have become a big problem if the dam failed, Schmidbauer said.
The project was funded with 65 percent of the money coming from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and 35 percent from the Great Lakes Fish Commission, Schmidbauer said. He said the Ashtabula County Metroparks provided “in kind” work that was important in making the project a reality,
The main reason for the project was to keep the sea lamprey out of the river, Schmidbauer said. He said the improved dam structure will also help the Harpersfield Covered Bridge.
Ashtabula County Metroparks Grand Administrator Larry Frimerman said there are several improvements planned but the hope is to get the park fully operational as soon as Gov. Mike DeWine eases the social distancing orders to fight the coronavirus.
The park constructed a playground last summer for young children and added other important elements to the park.
“We put a new backstop [for a baseball field] and some trails to the waterfall,” he said.
“This year we will be putting in the sand volleyball,” Frimerman said.
The courts will be constructed south of a pavilion on the south side of the park.
Many of the improvements were made thanks to a Nature Works grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Frimerman said.