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Accelerated erosion along Lake Erie prompts closure of park's overlook deck in Mentor-on-the-Lake

Posted at 5:21 PM, Feb 24, 2020

MENTOR-ON-THE-LAKE, Ohio — Lake Erie’s high water levels and startling lack of ice coverage continue to cause significant erosion along the coastline and, in the process, prompted city officials in Mentor-on-the-Lake to close the observation deck at Overlook Beach Park.

The constant pounding of waves has eaten away the bluff that surrounds the observation deck at the park, leaving it unsafe and potentially hazardous, city service director Brent Moore said.

“The beach used to go out about 150 feet or more and now it’s not,” Moore said. “With the deck falling into the lake we’ve had to close it off due to safety hazards. We don’t want anybody getting out on the deck and falling into the lake.”

Signage and caution tape have cordoned off the deck’s entrance. When the deck was built more than a decade ago, it featured a set of winding stairs that led to a large beach that protruded out of the bluff. On Monday, it appeared that the concrete pilings that supported the weight of the deck had become dislodged, causing the stair sections to become dislodged.

Moore said the erosion has intensified the past two years.

“It is very disappointing. Hopefully the state steps in and is able to help us out but we’ll see what happens,” Moore said. “We kind of expect those steps to be gone in a month or two.”

The erosion has spared no one, regardless if the property is publicly or privately owned.

Bill Sawyer and his family have lived in their lakeside home just a few houses down from the park for the past two decades. Two years ago, he spent more than $100,000 to shore up his sloping property by having a contractor install a stone revetment. Crews also installed large, interlocking boulders at the base of the shoreline that were to serve as a break wall.

While the stones remain in place, there appears to be erosion occurring on the backside of the revetment.

“The revetment worked great for the first two years at the existing lake level. In the past six months, with the lake continuing to rise, the waves now are continuing to breach behind the break wall and we’re beginning to lose land again,” Sawyer said. “It’s disheartening for sure after what you’ve done. How far can you go before enough is enough? You think about maybe leaving. It’s been our home and it’s a beautiful place to be but when you’re watching your backyard disappear it makes you wonder what you’re going to do next.”

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