Despite litigation against removal of the Monterey Dam and losing a $146,000 grant, city officials have let bids for the project and believe demolition of the dam will proceed as planned this summer.
In November, the Monterey Dam Association, a group fighting to save the dam, filed a petition in Rock County Court against the state Department of Natural Resources order allowing the dam’s removal. The group also requested a contested case hearing with the DNR.
The association argues the DNR should have taken into account the economic effects of removing the dam. The association also questions the process the DNR used to conclude the dam should be removed.
After the litigation was filed, the DNR withdrew a $146,000 Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Grant it had awarded the city in October. The money would have helped pay for shoreline restoration after the dam’s removal.
The city in December announced the project could be delayed to 2019 because of the petition and loss of funding, saying the delay likely would add to the project’s cost.
After speaking to DNR officials, however, the city has since determined the DNR’s order allowing the dam’s removal is valid despite the litigation, said Paul Woodard, city public works director.
“Based on that ... we decided to release the plans for bid,” he said.
It’s possible the litigation could result in the DNR order changing or being rescinded, but the city is confident enough that won’t happen to move forward with the project, Woodard said.
On Jan. 25, the city advertised seeking bids for the Monterey Dam’s removal, restoration of the upstream shoreline and construction of a stormwater pond in the area of the lagoon near Monetery Park upstream of the dam. According to the notice, the work includes:
- Excavating about 45,000 cubic yards of sediment.
- Stabilizing the bank with surface fabric and rip-rap.
- Seeding about 25 acres with native plants.
- Planting about 250 trees and shrubs.
- Installing amenities including kayak launches, limestone steps, fish habitat and a fishing dock.
The plan is to slowly draw down water and remove the dam in August. Bank restoration and creation of the stormwater pond are scheduled for spring 2019, Woodard said.
The lagoon would dry out after the water is drawn down, leaving it bare. Depending on the weather, some stormwater pond work could be done near the end of 2018, but the bulk would be in 2019, Woodard said.
The city has done several projects that didn’t look their best until they were complete, he said.
“This will be no different. People will have to be patient as we work our way through it,” Woodard said. “Once it gets done, it looks good.”
The association has voiced concerns with the city’s plan to excavate 45,000 cubic yards of sediment, saying much more should be excavated.
Woodard said the city will use dredged sediment to reshape areas, especially the lagoon.
Association Chairman Jim Chesmore said the city should be excavating 245,000 cubic yards. According to a dam sediment report on the city’s website, an estimated 245,000 cubic yards of unconsolidated sediment is in the entire impoundment created by the dam.
“We want to save the dam, but we’re afraid of the city doing things halfway again,” Chesmore said. “It’s cheaper (to excavate less), yes, but I’d like to see them do it right.”
Woodard said the city is satisfied with its plan, including excavating 45,000 cubic yards and not 245,000.
“It wasn’t an objective of the project to remove the accumulated sediment. I am confident of the pond design,” Woodard wrote in an email to The Gazette.
“I am not sure how many ponds Mr. Chesmore has designed, but Tim, myself and (consultant) Inter-Fluve have designed and built multiple facilities over many years. I am not aware of any facilities in Janesville that are not working,” Woodard wrote.
The Janesville City Council is scheduled to consider applying for three DNR grants, including applying again for the withdrawn grant, at its Monday, Feb. 26, meeting. The council is set to pick a contractor for the work at its March 12 meeting, officials said.
The litigation in Rock County Court is on hold until after a contested case hearing with the DNR.