Caesar Creek marina plan on hold

Shift of $4M for Grand Lake St. Marys, instead of marina at Caesar Creek, is in state budget.

Plans to build a multi-million dollar marina at Caesar Creek Lake are on hold while lawmakers consider using the set-aside funds to fix a recurring problem of toxic algae at Grand Lake St. Marys.

State Sen. Keith Faber, R-Celina, has proposed addressing the Grand Lake water quality issues using $4 million of the Waterways Safety Fund that was originally set aside in Gov. John Kasich’s budget to build a 300-slip marina at Caesar Creek.

The allocation shift was put in as an amendment to the state’s biennium budget, which recently passed the Senate and will be in conference committee next week. A final decision may not be known until Kasich signs the budget into law July 1, said Senate Republican spokesman Jason Mauk.

Mauk said the Senate’s version of the bill has the marina being funded as a capital bond project.

“The funding for the Caesar Creek project has not been cut,” he said. “The Senate chose a different funding mechanism. We needed immediate resources to address a very serious toxic algae problem at Grand Lake.”

Hazardous blue-green algae, which can produce harmful liver and nerve toxins, has returned to Grand Lake for the third year in a row. Faber said he doesn’t have a specific proposal for using the money, but it could possibly pay for wetland mitigation, phosphorus control and additional dredging of Grand Lake.

“If we have another bad year like last year, essentially it’s a $200 million economic impact that’s been brought to zero,” he said.

The Ohio Division of Natural Resources shares Faber’s concerns about the toxic algae, but wants the amendment removed from the final budget, said Laura Jones, ODNR chief of communications.

“We support Sen. Faber’s efforts to find solutions to the long-term issue at Grand Lake, but we feel it’s not the appropriate use of (the Waterways Safety Fund),” said Jones, adding that some WSF monies are paying for dredging efforts at the lake.

Harveysburg Mayor Richard Verga is concerned about the future of the marina project.

“This is a 35-year-old promise,” Verga said of the state’s pledge to build the marina. “We finally got to a point of real movement and now they’re trying to shelve it.”

Plans for the public marina, potentially located between the beach and the youth fishing pond on the north side of Ohio 73, include a boathouse, fueling station and restaurant that would be run by a private company.


By Richard Wilson, Dayton Daily News