by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor

As the calendar shifts from 2016 to 2017, the city of Corunna’s dam removal and Heritage Park enhancement projects are getting closer to becoming a reality. The city was ordered in 2009 by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment to repair or remove the Shiawassee River dam that has been a focal point in the community since the 1800s. The city first sought grants to finance the revitalization of the Corunna landmark, to no avail. Corunna residents then voted against a millage question in November of 2010 that would have raised the required resources.

Thankfully for the city of Corunna, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is encouraging dam removal across the state as a way to improve the aquatic habitats of Michigan’s rivers. Corunna has taken advantage of grant opportunities this year to finance its dam removal project, which is 100 percent funded due to a $301,500 DNR grant the city received in March and a $25,000 Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network grant accepted earlier in the year.

The city has been working with GEI Consultants of Michigan to plan the post-removal river access project that will transform Heritage Park and the river. The $288,600 plan includes a carry-down watercraft launch, fishing pier, boardwalk, and viewing platform. Corunna officials recently learned that Corunna has been recommended for a DNR Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant that would fund 76 percent of the post-removal development. The grant requires matching funds from the city of Corunna. The Corunna City Council has budgeted approximately 50 percent of the required matching funds, with roughly $45,000 still needed.

City Manager Joe Sawyer said during the Monday, Dec. 19 city council meeting that the city should find out in January if the grant will be awarded to Corunna, at which point, the city council would determine how to cover the remaining matching funds needed.

While many city of Corunna and Shiawassee County residents have expressed their disappointment in the dam removal project, some positive effects have been identified. The floodplain in Corunna could be reduced by more than 60 percent, according to GEI Project Professional Sam Prentice, and he also noted that the changes to the river will improve fishing opportunities. The project plans also call for cement removed from the dam to be broken up and spread across the river, which will create the rushing water sound produced by the dam.

Corunna officials plan to begin the removal of the dam in the fall of 2017.


Corunna Dam Removal Takes Shape in 2016 was last modified: December 28th, 2016 by Karen Elford