The state Department of Natural Resources withdrew a grant it awarded the city of Janesville to help pay for removal of the Monterey Dam because of litigation against the removal decision. The loss of funding could push the project back an entire year, city officials told The Gazette.
The DNR on Tuesday requested Rock County Court dismiss the Monterey Dam Association’s petition for judicial review of the DNR’s order to allow the dam’s removal. The association, which wants the dam repaired instead of demolished, filed the petition Nov. 29 hoping to reverse the DNR’s order.
Public Works Director Paul Woodard said Janesville will delay sending the project out to bid until the legal process gets sorted out. If litigation lasts more than a few months, the city will miss its preferred window to bid out the project and could delay it to 2019 to keep costs lower, he said.
“We typically bid our projects early in the year to obtain the most advantageous pricing,” Woodard wrote in an email to The Gazette. “Projects bid later in the year tend to be higher priced as contractors’ schedules get filled up.”
The city’s original goal was to bid out the project by Jan. 26 and remove the dam by September.
The DNR indicated it will withdraw a $146,000 Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Grant it awarded the city in October. The money would have helped fund shoreline restoration after the dam’s removal.
The Janesville City Council would allow city staff to reapply for it and two other dam removal-related grants at its Feb. 26 meeting, Woodard said.
Even if the lawsuit is resolved early next year, there’s no guarantee the city will get the stewardship grant again in 2018. If it doesn’t, it would have to reapply in 2019, which is another reason the dam’s removal could be delayed, Woodard said.
“If we end up delaying the project to 2019, there will also be the increased inflationary costs,” he wrote.
The Department of Public Works is disappointed in the outcome, though city officials don’t believe the litigation will result in the dam not being removed, Woodard said.
“I think it’s unfortunate because I think it’s going to add cost … and (we’ll) potentially lose grant money,” Woodard said.
Several association members own property along the Rock River that would be affected by the dam’s removal. The association believes the DNR didn’t account for the environmental and economic effects of removing the dam, according to the lawsuit.
The DNR disagrees, calling its decision “proper and lawful,” the documents read.
The association wants a hearing “to present relevant evidence to the DNR that could alter its analysis of the city’s application to remove the Monterey Dam,” the documents read.
The DNR hosted a hearing Sept. 12 to gather comments on Janesville’s removal plan but not whether the dam should be removed. Still, several association members showed up to request the department deny the request to remove the dam and instead repair it.
According to city officials, the association also filed with the DNR a petition for a contested case hearing. The DNR declined to comment on either the petition or the dam in general due to the pending litigation.