Cleveland Heights City Council will vote Nov. 22 on the second reading of a resolution to concur in the proposal of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District to remove Horseshoe Lake Dam, restoring that area to its naturalized state, and to rebuild the Lower Shaker Lake Dam.

The $28.3 million cost of the project would be borne by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.

The waters of Doan Brook formed both lakes. Lower Shaker Lake Dam was constructed by the Shakers in 1826. Upper Shaker Lake Dam, which held back the waters of Horseshoe Lake, was constructed in 1852. Both dams are part of Shaker Parklands, which is owned by the city of Cleveland and leased by the cities of Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has determined that there is both property damage and “the potential for loss of life in the event of a dam failure” at both dams.

Due to their age and condition, neither dam currently meets current state standards for protecting public safety and property, and both exhibit critical signs of deterioration, according to the resolution.

ODNR has required Horseshoe Lake be drained because of “severe deterioration,” according to the resolution and the city of Shaker Heights has plans for emergency mitigation including a controlled breach of the dam.

NEORSD “has advised that the full scope of the deterioration of Horseshoe Lake Dam is unknown, and even after construction of the emergency repairs, the risk to life and property will remain until a long-term solution is implemented.”

Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's Jeff Jowett explores both Horseshoe and Lower Shaker Lakes and their dams, their conditions, and our Regional Stormwater Management Program recommendations to address regional flooding, water quality, and public safety issues.

In addition, the sewer district “has determined that Horseshoe Lake does not provide sufficient benefit for flood control and stormwater management to enable the district to use its stormwater management funds to build a new dam.”

Michael Ungar


The cost to remove Horseshoe Lake Dam, rebuild it and restore the lake and rebuild that dam would be $20.7 million, and borne solely by the cities of Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights, according to the resolution.

Shaker Heights has approved a similar resolution.

“From Cleveland Heights standpoint, this has been anything but a rubber stamp,” city councilman Michael N. Ungar said as he introduced the resolution at the council’s Nov. 15 meeting. “My colleagues up here know, we’ve gotten hundreds of emails on this, very very thoughtfully on both sides of the issue.”

No vote was taken Nov. 15. Council sought a second opinion on it from Gannett Fleming of Fairlawn.

“Ultimately, that led to concurrence,” Ungar said. “We don’t make this unmindful of the beauty and the benefits of this jewel of a lake that has existed for so many years.”

Ungar said there would be time to comment prior to the Nov. 22 vote.

The meeting can be watched at

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