Council provides update on Danville Long Mill Dam removal

Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 8:20 PM EDT
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DANVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - In a 6-3 vote, Danville City Council decided to remove the Long Mill Dam from the Dan River.

Removal of the dam has been up for debate for over two decades.

Those in favor of the removal say they have public safety and economic development in mind.

“I do know that we’ve had some issues with a drowning further down. Then, not too long ago we had another young man that drowned just behind the car dealership that wasn’t too far from the dam. So, I don’t know if that might make it safer for people that are out in the river,” said Cathy Contratto, aquatics director for the Danville YMCA.

“One death is too many. Yes, we’ve had one, actually, we’ve had two but one is too many. It’s not only fear, I believe it leads to the growth of the future of our city,” said Sherman Saunders, City Council member.

Proposed growth such as a new River Front Park, a renovated White Mill Bridge and an extended Riverwalk trail.

“There’s additional reasons now besides public safety which is my priority. Proper economic development of that area depends on the dam being removed,” said Vice Mayor Gary Miller.

Those in opposition of the removal say they are concerned about low water levels and aesthetics.

“The water is going to be anywhere from an inch to maybe a couple feet deep. So, the notion of kayaking through there is a fantasy. They won’t be kayaking, they’ll be rock climbing.” said J. Lee Vogler, City Council member.

“The sound of the water coming over the dam is a special part of it as well as seeing it because it’s soothing. I’m going to miss it, I really am,” said Sandy Williams, a local of Danville.

The cost to remove the dam will range between $100,000 to $200,000.

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