It all began when the bridge over the Clyde River was deemed unsafe and had to be replaced. Word has it that was in the 1970s. There are arguments that it was a cost-cutting measure at the time to install a 48 inch pipe under the Lyons Marengo Road where the Clyde River flowed. The pipe was installed by County Highway Department, with what was described as “ill conceived’ plans by the Army Corp of Engineers. Regardless of past concerns, the result was evident. The Clyde River soon turned from an ecological wonder of flowing, navigable waters and great fishing, into a stagnant marsh-like swamp.
No longer could cottage owners simply step out their back door and marvel at the natural wonder. The area became unsuitable for all but the property owners forced to endure the changes. For almost a decade, residents fought to have their concerns addressed. The problem came down to money. It would cost close to a million dollars to fix the man-made problems. No one was about to spend that amount of money on so few residents.
Finally, with the pleas of Wayne County Planning Director Sharon Lilla and adjoining town supervisors, the issue surfaced. Then New York Senator Jim Walsh secured a grant for the project. Still, it would take years of permits, meetings and engineering problems to overcome, before the federal money flowed down to the state and was channeled to the County project. Why the delays? “Everybody had to put their 2¢ in. I’m not sure they wanted to,” said Brett DeRoo, Wayne County Planning Department Senior Planner, who has overseen the project for the past five years.
Before the project began, the County Highway Department took the responsibility to snag and drag decades of fallen trees and debris from the body of the river.
Last Tuesday (2/22), the dredging work began. Decades of mud, limbs and growth would have to be removed from the east side of Lyons Marengo Road, to other flow pipes located further down. The combination of the dredging and the installation of a 22 foot diameter culvert would aid in the flow.
The flow will ultimately be controlled by the rise and lowering on the nearby, connected Erie Canal. It is hoped that the opening of nearby locks will serve to flush water eastward down the River.
According to DeRoo, the final cost of the project comes in at $990,000. Lyons Marengo Road has been closed off to residents and, according to schedules, probably will not open until May, with project completion in June.