By Deb Patterson
SYRACUSE — Months, even years spent in discussions came to a reality Tuesday morning as workers with Precise Pile Driving Inc., Fort Recovery, Ohio, moved in equipment and began work on improvements to the Syracuse Lake Control Structure, or Syracuse Dam.
The project, estimated at just over $400,000, will be completed in a month’s time, weather permitting according to Ric Riemke, project engineer with Lawson-Fisher Associates, South Bend. He said that time will also depend on the ease of installing the new sheet piles driven into the pool. The project will be paid for with funds from the Turkey Creek drainage assessment money, town of Syracuse and donations from Syracuse and Wawasee Lake residents.
The work will focus on replacement of the deteriorating sheet pile along the banks in the pool area upstream of the dam, and work on the north and south bank downstream of the outlet structure. There will also be tuck pointing work on the concrete structure. Dredging of the pool area is also planned.
Riemke stated work will start with the removal of the chain-link fence and the cement cap on the existing pile sheeting. From there the new sheeting will be driven into the pool area. He explained the new sheets will be driven into the pool area 6 inches in front of the old sheets with floatable fill. A new cap will then be poured over the two walls. Downstream, once the new sheet pile is added, 6 tons of new boulders will be added to the north side. Currently there are no boulders in this area.
Riemke explained the new sheet pile will be thicker and more rigid than what is currently supporting the banks. The “z piling” interlocks and makes a “z” formation to give it more rigidness.
While workers with Precise Pile Driving are in the area, Brad Jutte, contractor, has been asked to take a look at the dike to give recommendations and possibly estimates to improve that earthen device.
Bill Pipp, one of the residents who has spearheaded getting financing for the repair at the lake control structure and the creation of the Turkey Creek Dam and Dike Conservancy, stated the group is pushing for information on repairing the dike. An estimated budget will need to be presented at a July 23 hearing before the Natural Resources Commission for the establishment of the conservancy. “We need to tell them what we think the budget will look like and what we anticipate doing for the good of the freeholders,” Pipp stated.
Repair or stabilization of the dike, which is just marl dredged from the creation of the channels in that area, is a project needing addressed. Pipp stated the Department of Natural Resources has already indicated it is an issue. Should the dike be breached there would be extensive damage to businesses in Wawasee Village.
Syracuse town officials have authorized a survey, which shows David Elliott is the owner of the property where the dike is located. Additionally a small segment or easement along Koko Road is owned by the town.
Future repairs to the lake control device itself will fall under the conservancy, if approved, in the future.
Discussion on the condition of the lake control device has been on and off again for a number of years, including who actually owned the dam. It wasn’t until early 2019 a group of concerned lake residents and representatives from the two lake associations continued to press repair issues with the Syracuse Town Council things began to move forward.
It was in May 2019 plans for repairs began and by mid November 2019, a permit was sought to begin the project.