Letter to the Editor on DEP and Broomall’s Dam
What follows is our Letter to the Editor sent on June 10, 2013 to local newspapers:
On May 10, 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) sent a letter to Media Borough reporting that the condition of Broomall’s Lake Dam at Third Street “continues to deteriorate” and that the agency planned to take action on June 12, 2013 to “correct an unsafe condition.”
PA DEP announced that it planned to drawdown the impoundment by siphoning Broomall’s Lake. PA DEP also stated that it had made repeated requests to Broomall’s Lake Country Club (BLCC), which it named the owner of record, to maintain drawdown of the lake to ensure dam safety. However, BLCC had informed PA DEP that it felt that dam safety was the responsibility of other parties.
Noting the status of legal responsibility for the dam continued to be disputed by BLCC, Delaware County, and Media Borough, the PA DEP declared that it intended to breach (remove) the dam if no progress was made to replace or remove the dam by November 1, 2013.
Earlier this year, Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Judge James Proud revoked the 2011 Stipulation Agreement between Media Borough, Broomall’s Lake Country Club, and Delaware County regarding the Dam/Bridge at Third Street in Media. With the Stipulation Agreement revoked, Media Borough is no longer legally obligated to replace a high hazard dam that will damage 1.1 acres during construction, permanently bury .64 acres of park land under earth fill, destroy valuable natural wetlands, and preclude reforestation of the north section of the park.
The leadership of the Friends of Glen Providence Park believes that Judge Proud’s decision to revoke the Stipulation Agreement and PA DEP’s declaration of its intent to remove the dam – if no party assumes ownership and responsibility for dam safety – presents an opportunity for achieving the best outcomes for public safety and environmental protection.
From the first time that the engineers’ 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. Local election results also suggest that Media Borough voters have not been persuaded by a “put it back the way it was” argument.
Across 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 private Country Club. We don’t believe that is a compelling enough reason to damage a section of a public park.
In order to protect the public park, the leadership of the Friends of Glen Providence Park is reiterating its call 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.
You can read the May 10, 2013 letter from the PA DEP in its entirety here.