Statement of Support for Dam Removal & Stream Restoration
On Monday, February 25, 2013, Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Judge James Proud revoked the 2011 Stipulation Agreement between Media Borough, Broomall’s Lake Country Club (BLCC), and Delaware County regarding the Bridge/Dam at Third Street in Media. The leadership of the Friends of Glen Providence Park believes that Judge Proud’s decision to revoke the Stipulation Agreement presents an opportunity for achieving the best outcomes for public safety and environmental protection.
Prior to this ruling, on September 20, 2012, Media Borough Council had approved a plan to replace the dam and construct a roadway that provided one lane for pedestrians and bicycles and one lane for automobiles with one-way traffic from Upper Providence into Media. The plan also allowed for Emergency vehicles to have two-way access to serve both Media and Upper Providence. BLCC then filed a Petition for Contempt that sought a ruling from Judge Proud to force the Borough to construct a roadway with two lanes for two-way automobile traffic. Instead, the Judge ruled that the Stipulation was “based entirely on the agreement of the Parties” and that such agreement did not in fact exist. BLCC’s challenge to the basis of the agreement caused Judge Proud to revoke his previous Order.*
With the Stipulation Agreement revoked, Media Borough is no longer legally obligated to replace a high hazard dam that will destroy 1.1 acres of park land including valuable natural wetlands, permanently bury over ½ acre of park land under earthfill, and preclude reforestation of the north section of the park. Across Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and the United States, dams on streams and rivers are being removed rather than replaced unless there is a compelling public benefit. Spending nearly $4 million dollars of tax payers’ funds on replacing Broomall’s Lake Dam will not produce electricity, provide drinking water, or preserve a public recreation site. The only purpose of this project is to preserve a private lake for a Country Club. We don’t believe that is a compelling enough reason to damage a section of a historical public park.
From the first time that the engineer’s plans for the Third Street project were presented to the public in the summer of 2011, many residents in Media and surrounding communities expressed serious concerns about the environmental and recreational impact of the project on the County’s historic Glen Providence Park. In fact, over 500 residents from Media Borough and nearly 300 residents from other municipalities signed a petition favoring a pedestrian and bicycle-only greenway at Third Street. Additionally, a Media Borough Council-sponsored public opinion survey of over 600 Media residents and business owners indicated strong support for dam removal and stream restoration.
The Friends of Glen Providence Park vigorously advocated for the positions of dam removal and stream restoration and building a greenway during the months leading up to the decisive vote by Media Borough Council on May 17, 2012. Citing a legal obligation to abide by the 2011 Stipulation Agreement, Borough Council voted 5-2 to replace the dam and reestablish a roadway for vehicular traffic. Accepting that Borough Council was legally bound by the Stipulation Agreement, the Friends of Glen Providence Park eventually supported the compromise of replacing the dam and building one-lane, one-way roadway for automobile traffic as a good-faith effort to limit the environmental impact of the project. However, BLCC rejected this compromise and filed a Petition for Contempt against Media Borough. As a result, the Stipulation Agreement was revoked and all parties have been forced to reconsider their positions.
In order to protect the public park, the leadership of the Friends of Glen Providence Park is again calling for dam removal and stream restoration. We also support exploration of how to create an environmentally sensitive connection between Media and Upper Providence. In order to protect public safety, we oppose any agreement or legal action that fails to resolve the core issue of ownership of the high hazard dam. If no party is willing to accept ownership of a high hazard dam, then millions of dollars of tax payers’ funds should not be risked to build one in our community.
* It is our understanding that Judge Proud has not ruled on a motion filed by BLCC to reconsider his decision, and in March, BLCC filed an Appeal in Commonwealth Court.