ZOAR: The village will not be torn down.
That was the message Zoar residents heard during a public meeting that representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held Wednesday night at Zoar Schoolhouse.
The corps is conducting a Zoar Levee & Diversion Dam Modification Study to determine how the levee that protects the village should be repaired to eliminate seepage. Breaching the levee, a move that would have required relocating the village, has been eliminated from further consideration.
Aaron Smith, the study’s manager, said more information will help the corps ensure the levee will protect Zoar against a “1 percent storm event.”
“Public safety is our No. 1 priority,” Smith said.
He emphasized that public input is needed to minimize or mitigate the effects of the levee repair on village residents.
Smith used slides to explain such technical details as “backward erosion piping” and a series of relief wells and toe drains that would relieve pressure and keep groundwater from flooding Zoar. Engineers and geologists from the corps were on hand to explain drawings of preliminary designs placed around the room showing potential alternatives.
The Zoar Levee, a Works Progress Administration project, was built during the 1930s to protect the village from a flood-swollen Tuscarawas River. Seepage from the levy flooded Zoar in January 2005 and March 2008.
Zoar, which was founded in 1817 by religious separatists, was named by the National Trust for Historic Preservation on its 2012 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
Smith asked everyone in attendance Wednesday to fill out comment forms to address the impact of levee repairs on local residents and businesses.
Kevin Martin, owner of the Firehouse Grille on Main Street in the village, expressed his concern that any work on the levee could close his restaurant’s parking area.
Public comments can be mailed to: Attention: Aaron Smith (Zoar); U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; CELRH-PM-PD-R; 502 Eighth St.; Huntington, WV 25701-2070.
Comments can be emailed to email@example.com with “Zoar Comments” in the subject line.