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Parma City Council passes proposal to turn Ridgewood Lake into stormwater retention basis

Dozens of residents upset over the loss of their lake
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Posted at 7:06 AM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-23 07:06:09-05

PARMA, Ohio — The Parma City Council unanimously voted to pass Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s proposal for Upper Ridgewood Basin Project. It will convert Ridgewood Lake into a stormwater retention basin, which will change the landscape from a lake into retention ponds that will fill up with stormwater as the rain falls down.

According to NEORSD, the infrastructure cost is estimated to be around $3.4 million, which is a part of the Regional Stormwater Management Program. On its website, NEORSD said it will reduce flooding in the area by 40% in the neighborhood based on its latest engineering models. Currently, about 150 houses, garages and other structures are flooded during heavy rain events.

Parma Mayor Tim Degeeter said it’s one of many projects throughout the city to fix Parma’s flooding issues.

“It is just devastating when we have a major flood. I’ve been interviewed by your station probably a dozen of times. This is a project that will bring infrastructure that will nicely enhance that park and it’s going to help a significant amount of people from having a flooding basement,” he said.

It was clear at Tuesday’s council meeting that flooding and city infrastructure needed to be updated to ease flooding concerns, something both residents and city leaders agreed on.

“I have no faith in my home to keep my family secure,” said one resident to the council.

Another commented the city’s sewer system is a big part of the flooding equation.

“Part of the problem is fixing what we’ve got in the ground. It’s garbage. It’s old. It breaks,” he said.

But what’s also clear from the dozens of residents who spoke in the public comment portion of the meeting before the proposal was voted on, they didn’t want the solution to come at the expense of losing Ridgewood Lake.

“You’re talking about a place here that everyone took their grandkids their kids for fishing, for skating derbies. It’s been a wonderful place,” said resident Dave Riter who lives along the lake.

Other residents echoed his sentiment. They’re worried losing the lake, means a loss in property value, community events and wildlife.

“The lake has been here for the people of Parma for 100 years,” said one resident.

Another pleaded with the council to figure out another solution.

“Please do not touch our precious parks that make Parma, Parma,” she said.

DeGeeter said he understands their concerns, but the flooding issue has to be addressed and this is a way to do it.

“I get it. It will have a different look,” he said. “Our job is trying to keep our housing stock up and lakes out of people’s basements. There will always be water there, but when it storms this gives it the capacity to fill that up.”

DeGeeter said the city is working to make sure there are public amenities and the park will still be a place for community gatherings. He also wanted people to know that they will start construction on Veteran’s Park soon, which was drained on an emergency remedial measure, and the Ridgewood Lake project will be approached differently than Veteran’s Park.

RELATED: Parma residents unhappy about proposed Ridgewood Lake retention basin