CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio — A showdown of sorts took place this week in Cuyahoga Falls, a city built on the shores of the Cuyahoga River in Summit County.
For many years, the city has tried to protect the shores of the crooked river from erosion by stacking the shoreline with chunks of concrete. Pictures of the measures made their way to social media, where the community took notice.
Falls resident Moneen McBride took the picture and posted it on her business' Facebook page.
"We just wanted to address it as river advocates," she said. "The river is protected and we wanted to make sure the concrete slabs and other debris doesn't wash downriver."
She and her husband own Burning River Adventures, a local canoe and kayak livery. Hundreds of residents responded, with many calling the city to voice their concerns.
Parks and Recreation Director Sara Kline says the city engineer approved the prevention measures, and this wasn't the first time river bank erosion had been dealt with in this way.
"The river is powerful and we've had some significant erosion on the bank. The department had undertaken some practices they've done in the past," she told us. "It's been an accepted practice for many years."
The social media pressure sort of washed away those past practices. Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Walters took to the city's Facebook page and delivered this statement:
"I would like to personally respond to a Facebook post regarding erosion control measures that were taken at Water Works Park. First, I would like to say that the health of the Cuyahoga River is one of our top priorities. The erosion control measures at Water Works are a common industry practice. I have ordered that this practice be stopped immediately, and we find a better way to control the severe erosion that continues. The river is one of our city's greatest assets and I assure you we will protect it. Thank you."
The concern McBride and others have is that in high-water situations, a lot of the dirt, debris, and even the concrete (some of which had exposed rebar sticking out of it) could be washed into the riverbed. It was never secured to the bank with retaining walls or fencing. There was also some removal of trees and vegetation along the bank that would actually encourage more erosion.
The city administration's fast action in stopping the concrete dumping gives McBride hope an alternative method to stop erosion will be found.
"We're very proud to be Cuyahoga Falls citizens and business owners and river stewards, and we're glad the city's going to look at other options," she said.
Options that will prevent erosion of the river bank and confidence in the city administration.