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Falls official warns of river dangers with dam cleanup

By Gina Mace
Special to the Beacon Journal

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Spectators gather to watch the removal of the Powerhouse Dam in Cuyahoga Falls on Tuesday. (Mike Cardew/Akron Beacon Journal)

CUYAHOGA FALLS: Temptation lurks just under the surface and on the shores of the Cuyahoga River between Water Works Park and High Bridge Glens.

Falls Service Director Valerie Wax Carr, who is overseeing the removal of two dams and the river reclamation in the area, is asking would-be treasure hunters to resist.

“The river is a construction area,” she said. “It isn’t safe to be in the water.”

And that includes teens who like jumping from the Doodlebug Bridge to cool off.

“The water there is only 6 feet,” Carr said. “If you jump into 6 feet of water, you’re going to get hurt.”

Until the river is clean of debris, those who enter it are in danger of being injured.

Besides glimpses of the city’s past, danger in the form of rebar, shards of glass, metal and sharp rocks is invisible from above the waterline, Carr said.

On Tuesday, two men who went into the river to retrieve a wooden hand cart were told to leave without their find.

Members of the construction crew retrieved the cart and stored it until an archeologist working with the city can look at it next week.

Restoring the river includes cleaning out the debris, Carr said. And the city has first dibs on any artifacts found.

“Anything of historic value will be cataloged and given to the Cuyahoga Falls Historical Society,” she said. “There could be some things the Ohio Historical Society finds of interest.”

Carr understands the curiosity and enthusiasm to unearth the past, but the artifacts hiding in the river and on the shore belong to the whole community, she said.

“I’m not going to be upset if someone takes a hubcap,” she said.

‘‘But if we find out someone has taken something of historical value, we have the right to prosecute. I encourage them to bring their finds to us.”

Carr said a public viewing of everything found will be scheduled.

Also, there will be an organized river cleanup Sept. 28, once the muck has dried. Anyone interested in helping can call the Carr’s office at 330-971-8240.

Gina Mace can be reached at