Create a Website Account - Manage notification subscriptions, save form progress and more.
City Council voted Tuesday night to table a resolution authorizing the removal of the Long Mill Dam, which is the low-head dam located on the Dan River adjacent the Danville Family YMCA.
The proposed resolution was based on a recommendation from City staff to remove the dam for safety reasons. City Council, however, tabled the matter after the majority of Council members expressed interest in further study.
Councilman Fred Shanks said the effects on the floodplain by removing the dam have not been adequately studied. He also said he believes any liability could be mitigated if additional signage were put in place.
Several Council members noted they have received an overwhelming number of telephone calls and emails from citizens opposed to removal of the dam because of its scenic beauty and association with Dan River Inc.
The dam was built in 1894 by Dan River Power & Manufacturing Co. to provide waterpower to the Long Mill building. The dam, which spans the full width of the river and is approximately five feet in height, currently serves no function.
Low-head dams pose a danger because as the water flows over the dam and drops to the lower level, the force creates a backwash or backward movement of water toward the dam that can trap anything that floats.
The City took ownership of the dam in November 2012 with a deed of gift from The River Partnership. Public safety around the dam is a greater concern with recent and proposed development. The new YMCA and the extension of the Riverwalk Trail on the north bank of the river have attracted people to the area in the immediate vicinity of the dam, posing an increased safety hazard. In addition, the planned riverfront park on the south bank most likely will introduce additional people to the dam’s vicinity.
City staff believes there are environmental benefits associated with dam removal, including a positive impact to the floodplain and a potential improvement to the river's ecosystem. Dam removal also opens up waterways to navigation.
The options to dam removal are to leave the dam as it is or to modify the dam to remove the risks. The Department of Game & Inland Fisheries supports removal of the dam. The Virginia Municipal League Insurance considers this dam to be an attractive nuisance, and it has advised that leaving the dam as it is may expose the city to liability should someone get hurt.
The cost of removal is estimated to be $57,200.
In addition to tabling action on the dam, City Council voted Tuesday night to:
• accept $109,974 in state funds to replace a vehicle and purchase equipment and office supplies for the Sheriff’s Office.• accept and appropriate $2.4 million in a settlement agreement with Duke Energy related to the coal ash accident in 2014. The settlement agreement includes a cash payment of $1.4 million to the City and $1 million in project funding.• reduce annual sanitation fees for curbside recycling, which will change from weekly to the first and third Thursdays of each month. The reduction of frequency will lower the annual cost from $180 to $90.• appoint 17 candidates to eight boards and commissions, including the airport commission, Danville Development Council, utility commission and social services advisory board.• authorize the issuance of bonds up to $7.6 million to finance the acquisition, construction and equipping of various capital projects.
City Council also held a first reading on whether to appropriate nearly $1.7 million for economic development project incentives for Project Axis and Project Cardinal. A first reading is an introductory step required by City code before certain matters can be voted upon by City Council. This step serves to provide public notice of pending action. Council could not vote on this matter Tuesday.
The earliest vote that can take place will be the Council meeting on July 5.
Council's meeting included a business session followed by a work session. In work sessions, Council reviews non-routine matters that will be voted upon in future business meetings. In Tuesday’s work session, City Council reviewed monthly financial statements and discussed term limits for members of the Industrial Development Authority.
Tuesday night was the final meeting for Councilman Buddy Rawley. His term on Council ends this month. He did not seek re-election. Mayor Sherman Saunders presented Rawley with a plaque of appreciation for his service on City Council.
Rawley thanked his wife, family, employers, council members and staff for their support during his tenure on City Council. He was appointed to City Council in 2002 to fill an unexpired term left vacant by the death of Councilman Charles Scott. In 2004, Rawley resigned from City Council to accept the position of customer service director of MSC Inc. in Fayetteville, N.C. Prior to 2004, Rawley was a 29-year employee of Dan River Inc., where he served as director of apparel customer service and account executive for Southeastern Sales.
He returned to Danville in 2006 to take the position of director of development at Danville Community College. In May 2008, Rawley was elected to City Council, and in May 2012, he was re-elected.
He currently serves as vice president of institutional advancement at Averett University.
River City TV airs live all Council business sessions. The first rebroadcast will be at 8 p.m. Thursday. Watch it on cable (Comcast channel 10 and Gamewood channel 122). The taped broadcast is available now on the City’s YouTube channel -- DanvilleVAGov.
River City TV does not air work sessions, but they are open to the public.