by By Larry Moore
November 29, 2013
There is a delay in the proposed Caesar Creek Marina project, the US Army Corps of Engineers is requiring additional site study and information. An archeological survey is required in the lake bed in the area of the marina. While I find it a little difficult to get excited about something that has been under water since 1978, the US Army Corp of Engineers is required to perform due diligence to ensure a wise use of our natural resources and protection of historically significant sites. Both the Army Corps and ODNR are interested in ensuring the project meets all survey requirements.
I spoke with Phil Miller, Resource Planning Administrator for the ODNR Division of Watercraft to get some updates on the project. Miller confirmed the delay noting, “We are revisiting our timeline due to a delay in obtaining the environmental permit from the federal government. This is because of the need to obtain additional information on the potential of archeological significance under the location of the proposed marina. While we don’t anticipate any significance, it has delayed our project.”
While no major excavation is required on the lake bed since floating wave attenuators will be used for the project, there will be some work performed in the lake bed. Miller explains, “The wave attenuators offer several advantages. They are less costly in terms of materials and construction hours over a traditional break wall design.
The design allows them to function for recreational use permitting the mooring of boats and providing stations for fishing. They also offer an advantage for aesthetics of the marina. A break wall would have to be built to include the flood stage of the lake meaning it would have to be twenty-feet above the summer pool. That would ruin the view of the lake from the marina. The use of wave attenuators will allow a scenic view of the lake from the marina.”
The possibility of an archeological site will require additional survey and sampling to be performed. A consultant will handle the additional work for the Division of Watercraft. The lake will be lowered an additional eight to ten feet to accommodate the archeological study. These samples will be taken by professionals and using hand digging methods. The samples will be evaluated for any archeological significance. This work should be started and completed in January 2014. The filling of the lake will resume according to the regular schedule for 2014 and for a normal summer pool.
The additional study will result in a delay to the overall marina project. Miller reports, “This will push the timeline for groundbreaking back to mid-summer of 2014 rather than the anticipated early 2014 start. The major construction should be within the late 2014 to mid-2015 timeframe. The overall completion of the project should be in late 2015 or early 2016. We anticipate putting the floating docks into place in early spring of 2016 with a fully functional marina for the 2016 boating season.”
Of course this all depends on the outcome of the archeological dig and study. It is currently anticipated that nothing of a significant nature will be found. The entire Caesar Creek area and valley was, historically, an area of high native American activity. Caesar Creek is not very far from the Fort Ancient National Historic Landmark and mounds. Fort Ancient is a very significant archeological location. There are other mounds scattered throughout the region.
During the construction of Caesar Creek Lake, many people flocked to the area to search for arrowheads and other artifacts. So it is, at least, a remote possibility that something significant could be discovered.
Miller adds, “We don’t anticipate anything major to be found within the area of the footprint of the marina project. However, should that happen, we will look at all options including mitigation plans, design modifications or even relocation of the proposed marina. We must evaluate the project in terms of environmental impact and users of the marina to ensure conservation and preservation of our natural resources for the benefit of all.”
Miller also discussed the efforts of the Division of Watercraft to partner with the private sector on the project. He noted, “We continue to pursue options for private sector investment in the marina. We anticipate a major announcement about the marina to the private sector in early 2014. We want to make investors aware of the products and opportunities they can bring to the project. We hope to have a partner on board in mid-2014 for the start of the construction.”
While the Caesar Creek marina project has hit something of a snag, it doesn’t appear that anything will seriously delay or derail the effort. A marina has been rumored and talked about since before the lake was even filled. While some fishermen are not excited about the new marina due to the location in a prime Muskie fishing area, it offers opportunity for jobs in the region and a benefit to recreational boaters. However, all that will have to wait until the consultants sift through the lake bottom muck within the footprint area of the marina. What the muck might hold or not hold is the key to the project moving forward. We will all have to wait and see.