The old Balm Grove Tavern. Photo: Chas Hundley

BALM GROVE - An open house hosted by Clean Water Services at the Balm Grove property will be held Wednesday, May 1 from 5 to 7 p.m.

The event will feature walking tours, light refreshments, and information about the water agency’s plans to remove an obstruction Clean Water Services says is vital to local fish habitat.

The property, home to a former tavern, park, historic concrete dam, and more has been the center of a planned project to remove the concrete dam spanning Gales Creek. Originally scheduled to be removed in summer 2019, Clean Water Services spokesperson Jessica Bucciarelli now says that, amid regulatory issues, Clean Water Services will not begin removing the structure this summer.

According to the Forest Grove News-Times, the dam removal project is opposed by local river advocacy group the Tualatin Riverkeepers.

In an email notice to interested parties, Clean Water Services said that the open house is a follow up to an open house held at the Gales Creek Community Church of God in the fall of 2018.

“All are welcome to stop by for updates, refreshments and walking tours. There are no formal presentations, so drop by any time between 5 and 7 pm. If you plan to take the walking tour, dress for weather and to walk about 400 feet across uneven and possibly wet ground,” the email read.

According to Shannon Huggins, a Clean Water Services spokesperson, the inside of the old Balm Grove Tavern is off-limits due to liability and structural concerns.

“Tour leaders are Abbey Rhode, the lead engineer on the fish barrier removal, and John Goetz III, the water resources project manager taking the lead on ecological enhancement of the site after the barrier is removed. They will address the expected effects of the project for fish and wildlife, for nearby landowners, and for the creek itself.

Abbey, John and other people from partner organizations will also provide updates on permitting efforts, painting and securing the tavern, honoring the history of the site, likely future uses, and other topics of interest to the community,” the email read.

Balm Grove is located at 10660 NW Balm Grove Loop in Gales Creek.