Lexington City Council votes to demolish landmark dam at Jordan's Point

The council said the dam is beyond any repair the city can afford

LEXINGTON, Va. – The Jordan’s Point dam is a landmark for the Lexington community. Now because of safety concerns and structural issues, the dam may be a thing of the past.

The low-head dam is built on history, hundreds of years of history. Now it is a point of deep discussion. Demolish with the help of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, or spend millions to maintain.

"We don't know if the dam will stay another day, a week, six months, six years or 60 years but the 2007 report recommended the dam be removed and conversations with the state said it was going to be expensive to repair that," said Noah Simon, Lexington city manager. 

On Thursday night, the Lexington City Council voted to move forward with demolition, citing the 2007 inspection report that found numerous structural and safety issues with the dam. The cost of demolition will fall to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

"Certainly a very attractive offer when you have someone who's willing to go seek funding for the removal, to manage the project and to really carry that ball forward," said Simon. 

On the other side of the divide, some residents are worried the removal of the dam will remove one more piece of Lexington's history. But city staff say an act of nature destroying the dam would be the real loss.

"I think this is real opportunity to document a lot of Lexington's history down there and to preserve that because if no investment is made in the dam, at some point that dam will fail and all of that history would be lost," said Simon. 

For one longtime Lexington resident, the decision to demolish the dam could sweep away years of tradition.

"I mean there's simply not a finer way to spend a lazy afternoon in the summer than floating down to the dam. Everybody here knows you put in at Bean's Bottom, take a couple hours, get down to the dam and get out," said Tom Lomax. 

The timeline for demolition is fluid. The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has to first work on an agreement with the city and then find the grant funding to be used for the project.