CAC Report: public opinion on the 3rd Street Project
What follows is our Letter to the Editor about the Citizens Advisory Committee Report on the 3rd Street Project. We encourage you to read the whole report on the Media Borough website. There are links to the applicable sections within our letter; you can also read all of the CAC meeting minutes on the Borough website.
At last October’s Public Hearing on the 3rd Street Bridge/Dam Project, the Friends of Glen Providence Park requested maximum public participation in deciding the course for the Project, in the form of a Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). The outgoing Media Borough Council approved of this idea, and the incoming Borough Council instituted the CAC in January.
The volunteers on the CAC included a project geologist, an architect, a doctor in Political Science, and other dedicated community members. They met every week for 10 intensive weeks, with some meetings running over 4 hours. Every meeting was open to the public, and they were well attended by community members and some Borough Council members. I attended 8 of those 10 meetings, and was consistently impressed by the level of discourse, the thought that went into how the data would be collected and interpreted, the careful design of the survey to fairly present the options, and the thoughtful consideration of the broad range of opinions.
The CAC used 3 primary methods to fulfill their mission to gather the opinion of Media Borough residents and other stakeholders: a Public Meeting on March 5 that was attended by over 125 people; a survey mailed to Borough residents, business and property owners; and stakeholder interviews. Opinion was sought on whether to replace or remove the dam, and whether there should be an automobile road or pedestrian-bicycle greenway, creating four combined options.
The results of the 651 returned surveys clearly showed that dam removal was favored: by all four districts of Media Borough residents, by Media business owners, by Glen Providence Park users, and by Broomall’s Lake Swim Club members. The strongest support of any single option was for 2B: dam removal and stream restoration with a pedestrian-bicycle bridge, with potential for emergency vehicle access. The results of the feedback from the Public Meeting mirror this, with by far the most support for any single option being for 2B. The stakeholder interviews showed mixed support for all four options, indicating the specific values of the individual interviewees.
We recognize that this public input was not a referendum, but the survey and Public Meeting were very well publicized, and the results reflect the opinions of a wide range of people, including residents from each Borough district, Upper Providence residents, and Media business owners. We recognize that there are a variety of opinions on this complicated project, but the strongest public support appears to be for dam removal and stream restoration, with a pedestrian-bicycle bridge. This is the option causing the least damage to Glen Providence Park, which in 2002 was determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, and hosts an array of plants and wildlife.
The CAC’s report also urges Borough Council to learn some relevant facts before making their decision, which seems very prudent. Research regarding the relative cost of dam removal, understanding the necessity and expense of dredging Broomall’s Lake, and clarity around the liability issues associated with replacing the dam are all critically important.
We thank the CAC for the extraordinary amount of discipline, dedication and work that went into soliciting these opinions and producing their report, and we thank Media Borough and its Council for their work to support the CAC. We wish Media Borough Council well in making their decision by May 15 on how to proceed.
Chair, Friends of Glen Providence Park