Group of Rochester neighbors try to save Silver Lake dam

Rochester group tries to save Silver Lake Park Dam

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(ABC 6 News) – A group known as the Friends of Silver Lake is fighting against Rochester City Council’s efforts to remove the Silver Lake dam.

For decades, Silver Lake Park has been a beloved landmark in Rochester and was approved as a historical landmark by the city council in 2023.

“This lake, this park and this dam have almost a century of history. They’ve been here for 87 years, they’ve served the city well,” said one of the founders of the Friends of Silver Lake, Greg Munson. “This is what I call ‘Rochester’s true central park.'”

Those who live nearby love the scenery, the sounds and most importantly, the dam keeping the lake intact for everyone to enjoy.

“The dam’s not dangerous, we haven’t had anybody die in it or have an accident in a hundred years,” said Rochester City Council Ward 5 Representative Shaun Palmer.

In 2019, Rochester City Council decided to modify the dam to create a walkway beneath the Broadway bridge. Those plans have since changed, but the project remains on the capital improvement budget, with the council continuing to seek funding from the state, despite pushback from those who live in the neighborhood.

“What I hear from people, one out of 20 support modifying the dam, the others are like ‘why would you wanna do that and lose more lake shore?'” said Palmer.

Munson says removing the dam wouldn’t only disappoint the public, but it could also cost the city more in flood damages.

“We’ve already been told by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources that the proposal they’ve got with the structure they’d like to put in place will end up resulting in higher hundred year flood events,” said Munson.

He goes on to say it could even change the landscape of the lake itself.

“It won’t be as big a lake, it’ll take out almost a quarter of the lake,” said Munson. “The fear is, that down the line, the whole lake could potentially be gone.”

While neighbors soak up the view for now, the sounds of the dam could eventually be a thing of the past.

Friends of Silver Lake will hold a “Save the Dam” rally at the Government Center on Aprill 22 at 5 p.m. ahead of the city council meeting.