Residents pack emergency meeting to hear about Geneva-on-the-Lake erosion

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GENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ohio (WJW) -- The coastline of one Northeast Ohio town is falling into Lake Erie, sometimes at a rate of seven or eight feet a day. Monday night, residents packed a special emergency meeting to hear what local leaders are planning to do about it.

Last week, the mayor of Geneva-on-the-Lake declared an emergency. Erosion in the area is a huge problem that's only getting worse and will be extremely expensive to fix.

The problem is threatening a public park, dozens of homes, and could become a more immediate problem: threatening infrastructure, like water, gas and sewer systems.

"We live in Mapleton Beach and we're all private, so we have to pay all this ourselves, and right now we're looking at over $100,000 to repair our shoreline," said one resident at the meeting.

"If we do all the stuff that's been damaged by the accelerated erosion for the village and the Township Park, and this is just a beginning fix, this isn't a total fix, this is to hold it off for a year or so, we're looking at $1.2 million," village administrator Jeremy Shaffer told the crowd.

Recently, land at Township Park has been sliding into the lake; first, a few feet at a time, then 45 feet within two and a half weeks.

Then, another 10 more feet since Thursday.

"There are 15 houses to the north and 14 houses to the south of the street that, if the roadside continues to slide in the lake, that we will have to isolate, shut the gas off to those places," said Shaffer.

"It destroyed our property up on the front, that whole cement, it just destroyed the cement. I mean, how many tons of cement, it just broke it up like a bomb," said resident Tanya Pilumeli.

Pilumeli's uncle lives in a home on Old Lake Road that has been in her family for decades.

"About six or seven of us have talked about trying to go in to try to alleviate or bring that cost down by going in and working with a contractor to do that," said Mark Fisher, who lives two doors down from Pilumeli’s uncle.

The village is considering several financial solutions: a levy, grants, state and federal help, but right now none of them are guaranteed, and they could only be used for public projects.

"It's good to hear that they're trying to do something. This is not a community with a lot of money," said Pilumeli.

Village officials say lake erosion has been a problem for many years, but has sped up recently due to record high lake levels and because the lake has not frozen over this year, so the waves keep pounding the shore.

They say it is a problem that will last for years to come. Officials say the lake erosion, is not just affecting Geneva-on-the-Lake, but coastal towns all along the shore of Lake Erie.

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