State lawmakers voted to keep funding in place to build a marina at Caesar Creek Lake, while using capital funds toward fixing the toxic algae problem at Grand Lake St. Marys.

With $4 million secured from the Waterways Safety Fund, plans are moving forward to build a 300-slip marina at Caesar Creek, said Laura Jones, spokeswoman for the Ohio Division of Natural Resources.

Grand Lake, where recurring toxic algae has stopped boating activities and devastated the local economy, is slated to receive $2 million of the state parks capital fund, Jones said, adding that $1.5 million was set aside to support lake dredging across the state.

“No money in this budget has been appropriated from the Waterway Safety Fund for Grand Lake St. Marys,” she said. “Exactly how those funds will be used has not yet been determined, but could include creating wetlands from dredging material.”

The appropriations are part of the final state budget that was signed into law by Gov. John Kasich June 30. Last minute changes from the Senate version of the bill restored the marina funding, according to Art Harden, head of the Caesar Creek Sailing Association who has lobbied for the marina for several years.

Harden said using the Waterways Safety Fund, which is revenue from boater registration and fuel taxes, for environmental mitigation at Grand Lake would have been an illegal use of the funds.

“This fund is ripe for the picking for some legislators that forget that this fund is funded by boaters and for the specific use of boaters under the Ohio code under which it was created. It is one of the few if not the only division of ODNR that is self supporting,’’ he said.

A consultant, identified in April, will now be hired to design the project and those plans may be ready in early fall, Jones said.


By Richard Wilson, Dayton Daily News