Bid to save Crooks Hollow dam fails TheSpec.com - Local - Bid to save Crooks Hollow dam fails
Eric McGuinness, The Hamilton Spectator
GREENSVILLE (Aug 24, 2009)
The scenic Crooks Hollow Reservoir will be drained this fall when the 96-year-old dam that forms it is demolished.
A spirited grassroots effort to save the deteriorating concrete structure on top 0f the Niagara Escarpment near Highway 8 and Brock Road in Flamborough, failed to raise money for repairs, so Hamilton Conservation Authority board members voted recently to proceed with demolition.
The decision leaves area resident Renate Intini bitter and disillusioned. She feels the authority neglected the dam for too long and didn't listen to those who think it's worth saving.
"They should take conservation out of their name and just call it the Hamilton authority," says Intini. "I'm just amazed at how they didn't listen to the community's voice. They say they do, but it's just talk."
Authority chair Chris Firth-Eagland says the decision was difficult, but the dam is in danger of collapse. He says he can't be sure it would survive a storm like the one that flooded Red Hill Valley July 26.
"We've had three walloping storms in the Hamilton-Burlington area in five years, any of which could have crossed the Crooks Hollow watershed and blown the dam. The question for board members was how far do you want to push the risk?"
In addition to flood damage, he noted that a dam failure would wash zinc-contaminated sediment downstream. Firth-Eagland says the picturesque dam and reservoir "epitomize conservation, but we are very vulnerable, and no significant funds were raised. Several groups agreed with the notion of rebuilding, but there is no money on the table, no commitment."
He says the authority must also listen to arguments for restoring Spencer Creek to the way it was more than a century ago, "as a more natural watercourse as (the late former general manager) Bruce Duncan dreamed."
Firth-Eagland said he appreciates "the sentimental, spiritual lift we all get when we see something as beautiful as that (the dam and reservoir), but can we as a community afford to rebuild for spiritual and sentimental reasons?"