Silver Lake -- Council members decided April 3 that they are not in favor of allowing a Ravenna firm to drill for natural gas on village property.

David Beck, vice president of Beck Energy Corp., approached village officials in December 2016 with a proposal to drill a well on a nearly 30-acre parcel south of Village Hall that is owned by the village. Following the drilling itself, fracking would have occurred to extract the natural gas from the well, according to Beck.

On April 3, Mayor Bernie Hovey told Council members that Beck had recently contacted him to find out whether officials wanted to move forward or not. Council conducted a straw poll and all six members who were present said they were against pursuing the drilling project. No one on Council gave a reason for being against the plan. Council member Christopher Scott (District A) was absent.

Beck was not in attendance at the meeting April 3, but told the Falls News-Press on April 6: "I understand and respect Silver Lake's decision regarding the natural gas well. Their first responsibility is to the residents of that community. The well would have provided revenue as well as an allotment of natural gas for the village to use for heat."

He noted that energy prices are "rising again."

Council Vice President Carol Steiner (District B) on April 5 told the Falls News-Press that a large number of residents spoke out against the proposal at an earlier meeting.

"It's not perceived as something that's safe," said Steiner. "Now, whether it is or not is another question, but it is certainly not perceived as being safe in the village with Silver Lake (the body of water) there and mainly with the Cuyahoga River right there. So we didn't want to mess with any possibility of the water being tainted."

"Regarding the safety issue, Beck Energy is confident that the well would be drilled in a safe and efficient (manner)," said Beck. "No trees would have been removed and the location would have been completely approved by the village."

Additionally, Steiner noted there was no guarantee on the amount of revenue the village would receive from the well, nor was it known how long the income would be coming in. Currently, the village's budget is "in good shape," said Steiner.

"I think the royalty would have been significant and beneficial to the village," said Beck.

Beck previously told Council he was willing to pay the village a $15,000 royalty prior to drilling. If the well had been successful, Beck said he had hoped it would generate $2,000 to $3,000 per month for the village.

Beck noted he did not think his firm would pursue the issue again with the village.

Noting that he valued residents' input, Hovey told the Falls News, "It appeared to me that the general sentiment in the village was opposed to the drilling of the well. Hence, I am in agreement with Council's decision."

Twelve of the 13 residents who addressed Council on Feb. 21 said they were opposed to the proposal. Residents raised concerns about water safety and felt that the potential revenue was not worth the possible health and environmental risks.


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