Posted on June 22, 2022
State and local officials were among those who gathered against the backdrop of Lake Erie on June 21 to break ground for a new dredging facility in Painesville Township.
The North Park Sediment Recycling Facility will be built and operated by Kurtz Brothers, and it will be located just west of Hardy Road and Painesville Township Park. Patrick Mohorcic, director of public finance and chief financial officer of the Lake Development Authority, said that the $11.3 million facility will recycle sediment from where the Grand River empties into Lake Erie, making it easier for larger ships and shipping containers to navigate the channel.
Jason Ziss, who works in business development for Kurtz Brothers, noted that this will be the first such “beneficial reuse” facility in Lake County. Kurtz Brothers operates a similar facility for the Cuyahoga River, where it recycles and sells soils and other products recovered from the dredged sediment.
“It really is the true testament of the public-private partnership and collaborative team effort to really solve a multitude of civic benefits to the community: water quality, commerce on the Grand River as well as the park trail,” Ziss said, referencing the new Lake Metroparks Lakefront Path, which will run on the property. “Really proud to be part of that.”
The new facility will be important as the Grand River has not been dredged in nearly three years, Morhorcic added, saying that this increases the risks of “bottlenecks” in Fairport Harbor.
The three-year gap in dredging came in response to 2016 state law, noted David Anderson, the Lake Development Authority’s executive director. Previously, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredged the port and deposited the materials into Lake Erie. But according to Anderson, state lawmakers banned the deposit of dredged materials into the lake in 2016, concerned that it was contributing to the algae blooms near Toledo. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said that it would not dredge unless there was a recycling facility where it could deposit the materials.
“I don’t think we could have picked a better partner for this project than Kurtz Brothers,” Anderson said. He noted the roles that Ziss and Mohorcic played, as well as Jason Boyd, the Lake County administrator.
Lake County Commissioners John Hamercheck and John Plecnik spoke at the ground breaking. Hamercheck pointed out that the dredging problem represents a broken system, adding that the need for a dredging facility should have been addressed sooner.
Plecnik noted that the new dredging facility is just the beginning of protecting Lake Erie and the Grand River. He called it “a huge down payment” on making Lake County a place where people want to live and work.
Two state senators were also on hand: Jerry Cirino, R-Kirtland, and Matt Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls.
Cirino said that support for the new dredging facility was bipartisan. He said that the Grand River has not been navigable due to a lack of dredging over the past three years, and noted that the new dredging facility will help ensure navigable waterways.
“Many captains have been hesitant to take their ships down the river,” he explained.
Cirino also presented a commendation to the county, Lake Development Authority and Kurtz Brothers signed by Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman.
Anderson and Cirino both expressed gratitude to Dolan, who chairs the Ohio Senate Finance Committee, for his role in organizing funding for the project. Dolan called Lake Erie “our greatest natural resource” and noted that this dredging facility will help preserve it for tourism, the economy and more.
Anderson next introduced the two state representatives from Lake County: Jamie Callender, R-Concord Township, and Dan Troy, D-Willowick.
Callender said that the new facility will be important commercially, financially, ecologically and recreationally.
Troy noted that Lake County has been a leader in recycling and that this new facility will benefit the Grand River and Lake Erie.
Anderson also mentioned the support that Gov. Mike DeWine and Congressman Dave Joyce, R-Bainbridge Township, gave to the project. Tom Queen, communication relations director for Joyce, presented both Kurtz Brothers and the Lake Development Authority with Certificates of Congressional Recognition and Achievement.
Joy Mulinex, the executive director of the Ohio Lake Erie Commission, represented DeWine’s office and noted that the dredging facility will provide economic benefits for the county.
“Governor DeWine is pleased to help marry economic development with water quality,” she said.
Lake Metroparks Executive Director Paul Palagyi, meanwhile, thanked Kurtz Brothers for its donation of trail access.
In a previous interview, Palagyi said, “We think that the story of what’s going to happen on that property by Kurtz Brothers is a great recycling story, because you’re basically going to take soil that has been washed into the Grand River throughout Lake County and Ashtabula County, you’re going to take it out of the Grand, you’re going to bring it over here, you’re going to get the water out of it, and then Kurtz Brothers will sell that back into the market.”
Also present at the event were representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
Mohorcic said that the facility was funded through money from the American Rescue Plan Act, which was distributed through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to the Lake Development Authority. Under a lease agreement, the Lake Development Authority owns the facility. Kurtz Brothers operates and is liable for the facility and profits from the sale of the recycled materials.
Ziss said that the facility will receive its first load of sediment in August, with dredging on an annual basis afterwards. He expects the facility to be completed in December.