VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — It’s official, Vigo County Commissioners have decided to remove the historic Markle Mill Dam.

During a meeting Tuesday, Commissioners voted unanimously to demolish the dam. Commissioners said it is no longer if the dam will fail, but when.

Markle Mill Dam was built in 1817, according to the Vigo County Parks Department, the structure is now in poor condition and presents several dangers to the community.

Jerry Sweeten, Ecologist with Ecosystems Connections Institue, LLC studies and removes dams, like Markle Mill. He said that the dam is extremely harmful to humans and the structural integrity is extremely compromised.

“Communities are very attached to these things because they’ve grown up with them and so we’re very sensitive to that,” Sweeten said.

Grants are expected to pay for around 90% of the removal. Using federal dollars for the demolition requires Ecosystems Connections to use a certified Archeologist. With that comes an archeological report that encapsulates the history of the mill and the dam so that it is preserved in writing.

The original dam was made out of logs which were later capped in concrete.

Sweeten said wooden parts of the original dam will be saved to give the community the option of doing something to preserve the history.

Sweeten also added that the dam will be removed carefully and slowly.

“We’ll do what’s called a staged release, where we cut the dam down from the top, a few feet, let the pool drain, cut it down a little more, let the pool drain until we get to that stream level,” Sweeten said. “And then we’ll stabilize the stream banks, make sure they’re revegetated, and you will have a beautiful stream that is buried under that sand,” Sweeten said.

Vigo County Parks Superintendent, Adam Grossman, said that with the removal of the dam, improvements will be coming to the park.

“With the vote to remove the dam, we want to make sure we turn focus to Markle Mill Park,” Grossman said.

Grossman presented a plan during the commissioners’ meeting that included new signage where park-goers can take a self-guided tour to learn the history of Markle Mill. Upgrades would also be made to existing structures, dead tree removal, and improvements to the parking lot, including a barrier from the nearby street. Grossman also spoke about creating a train from the new parking lot to the gazebo and over to a newly expanded playground. The park could also see covered picnic tables, grills, and security cameras to give families a safe place for recreation.

While Grossman noted that funds were not yet in place for park improvements, Vigo County Commissioner, Mark Clinkenbeard said, “That park is run down. And it does need some security and surveillance to try and keep some of the riffraff out of there. So, we are committing, we’ll find it somewhere, $75,000 towards the rejuvenation of that park.”

Clinkenbeard said, if the dam would fail, the county would be responsible for the costs. By electing to remove the dam, they qualify for the grants expected to pay for the majority of the removal.

“We’re looking at possibly $20,000 to $25,000 dollars give or take county money. So, we are saving the taxpayers’ money,” Clinkenbeard said.

Ecosystems connections said they will begin right away gaining the necessary permits. The goal is to have the dam removed by the end of the summer or early fall this year.