Legal battle could determine what will happen to the Mill Pond Dam in Davisburg

‘I think it has historical value,’ a resident said

The tiny Hamlet of Davisburg is about to enter into a legal battle with some of its residents.

DAVISBURG, Mich. – The tiny Hamlet of Davisburg is about to enter into a legal battle with some of its residents.

They’re fighting over whether to keep the old Mill Pond, the area’s sentimental showpiece.

The running water is the Shiawassee River. It’s coming from the Mill Pond Dam, across Broadway.

The dam itself is the problem. It’s been at the heart of the town for 150 years, but its days are numbered. Ice and snow cover the scenic centerpiece’s beauty.

“I grew up in Davisburg. I think it has historical value. I think it’s a beautiful area. There’s a lot of recreation we used to swim there. Kids got swimming lessons,” Blanche Barber said.

There hasn’t been swimming there in a long time, as the beach is no longer tended and the dam holding the water is in need of repair. Local 4 spoke with one township board member by phone and she said it is cheaper to replace the dam with what they called an open bottom culvert than it is to fix the dam. That’s mainly because the state of Michigan is offering grant money to tear out dams and none to repair them.

The board voted last fall to hire a dam removal crew and Barber hired an attorney.

“When they get rid of the dam and water all I’m going to end up with is a stinky dead fish smell or something and how are you going to get rid of that?” She asked. “That’s devaluing my property.”

The board member said the dam serviced a mill that’s been gone for about a century, so the pond serves no real purpose. Then there’s the wild card: to replace the pond they want to create a massasauga rattlesnake preserve.

Barber said those rattlesnakes are already plentiful. Now, the township isn’t the only board involved. Oakland County has some ownership and it has approved tearing out the dam but it’s a slow process that could take a couple more years.

About the Author:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.