GENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ohio — Concerned residents packed Geneva on the Lake’s Village Hall Monday night to get answers about the eroding Lake Erie shoreline.
“I won’t be lakefront for a while, I’m the third cottage in but I can see it happening,” says Resident Cindie Harkless.
“It’s scary there’s beautiful houses in front of me that can fall in the lake, I’ve seen houses fall into the lake on our road in the past, in 1987.”
Harkless says she and her neighbors would have to pay $120,000 out of pocket to shore up their private beach but public land and infrastructure is also in jeopardy.
“We’re proactive we’re trying to come up with a solution for this obviously, it’s more money than the village can afford to take on ourselves so that’s why we’re looking for help,” says Geneva on the Lake Mayor, Dwayne Bennett.
The informal meeting drew dozens of residents from Geneva on the Lake and nearby communities.
In the past, village administrator Jeremy Shaffer said that a January estimate put the cost of protecting the park’s shoreline at $1.3 million. He said that figure is obviously going up.
The recent above-normal water levels have made erosion worse, Shaffer says. And warm winter temperatures have turned the lake, typically frozen this time year, angry during heavy snowstorms.
Officials are looking for state and federal help, which could take years.
In the meantime, the board that manages the park is turning to homeowners for help. Next month, voters will be asked to back a property tax increase, which will cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $42 a year. The money will be used to shore up the park’s slope. (The park board represents Geneva-on-the-Lake, Geneva Township, City of Geneva.)
Harkless is concerned about paying double for the problem.
"We're going to pay privately ourselves, why they want to tax us again for something that we're going to have to pay for again ourselves," she says.
"It seems to me like they've waited too long [and] all of the sudden they got nervous. We've been battling our erosion since 1987."