Girard lakes talks give promise

Girard is on the right track by talking with a developer for the upper and lower lakes.

Many years ago, the city negotiated with Forest City real estate management to create luxury housing along scenic vistas around the lakes. Those plans fell through. But Mayor James Melfi said recent talks with an unnamed developer have been the most promising in his 14 years in office.

Girard purchased the lakes for $2.5 million from the Ohio Water Service in 1995 in one of the worst political blunders in the city’s history. The plan was to develop a water source so the city would no longer have to pay surcharges to Niles and Youngstown for treated water from the Meander Reservoir.

City officials at the time ignored warnings that the cost of a water treatment plant could render the plans unfeasible. Then it turned out the lower lake dam would need millions of dollars to repair or replace.

Lower Girard Lake is now a field of weeds as the dam needed to be breached.

But the idea of developing upscale residential and commercial real estate around the large bodies of water remain viable. The sale of land and future income taxes could generate the cash needed to replace the dam.

This would restore valuable recreational opportunities for the community.

The water could also become a source for the fracking industry, creating even more revenue.