DANVILLE (WSLS10) - Those opposed to removing the White Mill Dam from the Dan River in Danville have won, at least for now.
The debate about what to do with the dam got heated at Tuesday night's council meeting. As council members were discussing the issue one final time before the vote, vice mayor Gary Miller attempted to talk over Council Member Fred Shanks as Shanks was voicing his opinion.
Council members were considering removing the dam over safety concerns because of increased traffic on the trail near the dam and for a new park that has been proposed to be built near the dam.
Danville Public Works recommended removing the dam, but instead council voted to table the issue indefinitely and leave the dam as it is.
Prior to the vote being taken, two citizens spoke out on the issue.
One man asked whether the money that Duke Energy paid the city for the damage caused during the coal ash spill could be used to pay for modifications to the dam.
He also questioned whether or not there may be coal ash trapped in the dam and what might happen to the coal ash if the dam was removed.
When asked Tuesday afternoon about the dam, Council Member Shanks said he believes the safety issues surrounding the dam are being overplayed and he would not mind spending a little money each year to upkeep safety modifications around the dam.
"The courts have shown that signage and buoys relieve the cities and municipalities of liability, so I don't think there's any doubt about it. A little operational cost each year for buoys and signage is fine with me," he emphasized.
Mayor Sherman Saunders initial motion on the issue, to remove the dam in its entirety, was not seconded.
Council members then took turns making motions to leave the dam as is until further options can be explored regarding low head dams and motions to leave the dam in place but make safety modifications to it such as adding more signs and putting buoys in the water.