Paint Creek Mill waterwheel power may be restored

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published December 21, 2012

OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — Township officials are moving forward in an effort to restore the millrace system that would bring power to the Paint Creek Mill waterwheel.

A millrace is a stream of water that flows through a mill wheel, making the wheel turn.

“We are presenting plans to restore historic flows in the millrace so the millrace can be put to use,” Oakland Township Trustee Mike Bailey said Dec. 11. “It was last operational in 1998. The millrace was hand dug in 1839 by Needham Hemingway and connects to the Paint Creek Mill.”

Bailey said the effort would make the mill eligible for designation as a National Historic District. The mill — which is located on Orion Road, at Gallagher Road, and is owned by Oakland Township — currently holds township and Paint Creek Trailways offices and also serves as a retail cider mill in Goodison, an Oakland Township historic area that was settled in 1825.

“The mill creates a lot of potential for us,” said Oakland Township resident Jan Olson, who lives near the millrace. “Very few communities have a working millrace that connects to a waterwheel. This would create historical presence for Goodison.”

Jason Kenyon, an engineer from the civil engineering firm Wade-Trim, said sediment in the millrace must be removed, a small inner channel should be constructed and the banks should be reshaped to provide naturalized habitats for fish and wildlife.

“We need to develop the scope of the work, and we need easement documents put in place with property owners,” Kenyon said. “This should happen up front before we get into the final design.”

Clinton River Watershed officials have stated they are willing to submit up to two grant submissions to pursue funding to remove the sediment and do the improvements, once the millrace work plan is in place, Kenyon said. Preliminary project costs are estimated at $285,000, he said.

The township board unanimously approved moving forward with the design plan for the millrace and waterwheel restoration.

“There is a fair amount of enthusiasm for our project, and I think the enthusiasm is growing,” Bailey said.

“Obviously, it is very important to the township to restore the millrace and ultimately the mill, I think,” Township Supervisor Terry Gonser said.