GENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ohio (WJW) — With Lake Erie water reaching record-high levels for February, leaders in Geneva-on-the-Lake are scrambling to stop what they call an “erosion emergency.”
Village Administrator Jeremy Shaffer said erosion has eaten away more than 40 feet of shoreline at Township Park since early last week, sometimes at rates as high as eight feet per day.
“It was inches a day at the beginning. Then, next thing you know, it was three feet, then it was six feet and eight feet,” Shaffer said.
It’s happening amid record lake levels, without ice cover to temper waves. Shaffer said he’s worried about the threat to nearby Old Lake Road and underground utilities. Lakefront homeowners are also being impacted.
“It’s just hammering away and eroding. It’s called accelerated erosion at this point. You can see there’s no plant mass, it’s all washed away,” Shaffer said.
He said the village is now seeking an emergency fix, such as placing rocks along the shoreline, before developing a long-term plan. He said a recent estimate for a full erosion control solution totaled $1.3 million before the erosion worsened in recent days.
“We don’t have it budgeted,” he said. “We don’t have any contingency for it.”
Mayor Dwayne Bennett this week declared an emergency, opening the door for possible emergency funds from Lake County.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials visited the site Tuesday to discuss the issue and help with the permitting process.
The Geneva Township Park Commission has also placed a levy issue on the March ballot that would raise more than $1 million for erosion control at the park, according to the commission’s fiscal officer, Tony Long.
“What we’ve been looking for is some solution. Solution is not cheap,” he said. “It gives us immediate action we can take.”
The park is more than a century old and is particularly popular in the summer, when crowds flood the tourist town.
The lakefront is an important part of the community’s economic lifeline, according to village councilman Matt Caudill.
“That’s why we’re here,” he said. “This is why this resort community is here.”
Shaffer said the village is also calling on state and federal legislators for assistance.
A community meeting is being held Monday at 6 p.m. at Geneva-On-The-Lake Village Hall to discuss erosion impacts and possible solutions.