Milham Park dam being removed after nearly 100 years

Kalamazoo County

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Crews in Kalamazoo are working to remove the dam in Milham Park.

The dam has been a popular place to visit in the nearly 67-acre park for almost 100 years.

Patrick McVerry, the deputy park director for Kalamazoo, says the city has tried to figure out why the dam was built to begin with.

“We can’t really figure out, based on some of the historians that we’ve worked with and any documentation, why the dam was originally put in. What we’ve found was it was originally put in in 1925 a little bit farther upstream as a wood dam and over the years progressed a little bit farther out,” McVerry said.

The project costs just under $450,000 to remove the dam. Grants and state funding are covering most of the expense.

A rendering of what Milham Park could look like with the river restored. (courtesy Kalamazoo)

“The only reason that we’re actually removing it is to try and restore Portage Creek,” McVerry said.

The condition of the ageing dam was also a concern, according to McVerry.

Vicki Konzen and has been visiting the park for decades.

“I like coming here because of memories of coming here as a child with my family and friends,” Konzen said. “I think a splash pad and then maybe upgraded playground equipment so it’s safer.”

Susan Alexander says she will miss the small waterfall the dam created.

“I would still like to see the waterfall because that was the best part for me to go and just stand by the waterfall and watch it and listen to it,” Alexander said.

The president of the Kalamazoo River Alliance says the organization welcomes the dam’s removal and says it will have benefits to the local fish population and river ecosystem.

The city if looking for community input on any improvements they would like to see in the area near the dam.

The dam removal should be finished by mid-August.

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