Boardman River meeting gets heated

The meeting started with an overview of the project, which had most people upset since they wanted more time to ask questions.

A public meeting was held tonight at the Civic Center in Traverse City to try and answer the public's questions regarding the Boardman River and the dam removal project.

The meeting started with an overview of the project, which had most people upset since they wanted more time to ask questions.

The leaders did note in the presentation that arsenic and water temperatures are both within acceptable ranges. The first uproar occurred when a facilitator, Chuck Lombardo, said that no one can predict Mother Nature and flooding is always possible near a river. Another topic of question was when people should start seeing money for property damage from the flooding in October - to which they were told once a damage amount is agreed upon it takes about a week, and they are starting to send checks out to first responders.

The majority of people wanted to know what's going to happen if there is more flooding - and who will be held responsible. Others asked who gave the authority to keep the current leaders on this committee. Multiple people argued for no further movement on the plans until more research is done and those facts presented.

Questions were also raised about turbidity and wildlife. Andy Selle of Inter-Fluve said there are a couple causes of the current turbidity (mechanical-the construction occuring, and natural-the river trying to return to it's natural course) but that within months of the completion the water should be clear. Selle said they are sampling some areas twice a day, and when asked to sample after a rain event he said that would be possible. Todd Kalish of the MDNR said that multiple organizations are collecting information and assessing that data on fish and wildlife (Grand Valley University being the independent source) and if you have any concerns about the wildlife to contact the DNR.

Also addressed was the subject of toxins - which Sandra Sroonian of AMEC reported that all of the soils are contained in permit zones owned by the city (but failed to answer how far they are from residential areas). The crowd also questioned the possible toxins in the sediment that washed into the river when it flooded - Sroonian said they are not aware of any toxins at this time from the flood, but if you believe there are toxins in a certain location to contact the DEQ.

Frank Dituri, the Chair of the Boardman River Implementation Team, stated "What your best design is based on is sound data. So it's your responsibility to provide yourself with the best information you can have to design things that move forward. So this design was based on whatever best information we could compile."

The meeting came to a close before many questions were answered - while many of the project leaders stayed to try and help, if you were unable to come to tonight's meeting or have all of your questions answered, please contact the leaders at