Opponents to Lexington dam removal start online petition

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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ7) It was little more than a local landmark until a local teen drowned when caught in its undertow. Though his father campaigned for its removal then, it was just too big – and expensive – a job.

Until the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries presented a plan … and most importantly, said they could find the money for it.

“I have a lot of mixed feelings about it, but initially, it’s just terrible news,” says lifelong Rockbridge resident Kelly Nye.

The dam has its supporters, some of whom have started an online petition to save it.

“There is a definite emotional reaction as soon as I hear the words: remove the dam," Nye explains, "Because the possibility of all of this going away is there.”

She’s referring to the calm water upstream, which will go away with the dam as the river’s water level lowers.

“This only really affects about a mile of water here, almost completely within the city limits of Lexington, which creates this perfect pond-like oasis,” Nye says.

And, as dam supporters point out, the safety issue was addressed with signs and buoys warning swimmers away.

There’s an informational public meeting on the report next Monday, where both sides are expected to be heard.

Nye says: “I want it to be just as fun growing up here in Lexington as it was for me, and this part of the river was a huge part of that.”

The public meeting next week is at 6 pm at Lylburn Downing Middle School in Lexington.