Broomall’s Dam update (last updated 5-31-2022)

Oct 9, 2021 by

At their October 6, 2021 legislative meeting, Delaware County Council announced an ordinance to take 4.7 acres of the Broomall’s Lake Country Club’s property, bordering the northern edge of Glen Providence Park, by eminent domain. Ordinance # 2021-10 references acquiring “private property for the purpose of establishing, making, enlarging, extending, operating and maintaining public parks and multiuse trails within the limits of the county.”  The 4.7 acres include the footprint of the former Broomall’s Dam, which was partially removed by the PA Department of Environmental Protection in 2017 for safety reasons. Issues surrounding the ownership and maintenance of Broomall’s Dam have been ongoing since the dam was declared unsafe by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1980. 

Glen Providence was the first park owned by Delaware County – it was donated in 1935 by George and Eleanor Butler to establish a Bird Sanctuary & Arboretum. Glen Providence was constructed by the Works Progress Administration, and it was determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

Friends of Glen Providence Park, an all-volunteer non-profit organization, formed in 2011 in response to the threat to the northern end of the park from the planned Broomall’s Dam reconstruction, which would destroy over an acre of Glen Providence including wetlands, stream, and 76 mature trees. That acre is a valuable wildlife corridor, and harmful impacts from the project would continue downstream through the park.

In addition to many hours spent in research and advocacy to minimize destruction to Glen Providence Park from that project, we have volunteered many thousands of hours to preserve and enhance this historical 33-acre park, including free and family-friendly monthly events, native tree plantings, cleanups, historical research, nature walks, and summer concerts. Through citizen science projects, we have documented over 200 plant and animal species including 19 reptiles and amphibians, more than 58 trees, dozens of plants, and 129 birds. Many of those are in the acre that would be destroyed by the reconstruction of Broomall’s Dam, including some Pennsylvania-rare and sensitive species. 

We look forward to learning more about the County’s plans for this area. We hope the 4.7 acres in Ordinance 2021-10 can create a natural buffer for Glen Providence Park, and protect its trees, wetlands, and stream, with all of the native plants and wildlife that make it their home. 

County Council will conduct a second reading of the ordinance and hold a public hearing to solicit comment from Delaware County Residents at their Legislative Meeting on Wednesday, October 20 at 6pm.

UPDATE on Tuesday, October 19, 2021: At this morning’s County Council Agenda meeting, it was reported that the County is in productive discussions with the landowner (Broomall’s Lake Country Club), and that a two-week delay may help achieve a resolution without the use of eminent domain. County Council voted to REMOVE the vote on Ordinance 2021-10 from the agenda for Wednesday, October 20. There was discussion about having the second reading and vote on Ordinance 2021-10 at the next legislative meeting on Wednesday, November 3.

UPDATE on Monday, November 1, 2021: Ordinance 2021-10 is not on the agenda for the County Council legislative meeting on Wednesday, November 3. We presume discussions with the landowner are continuing.

UPDATE on Wednesday, December 1, 2021: Ordinance 2021-10 was not back on the agenda until this week, when it was on the preliminary agenda for December 1 — but at the Agenda meeting, County Council again tabled it due to “successful negotiations with (BLCC) that will meet the County’s goals.” It was indicated that the vote will not be tabled again past the next Legislative meeting. So at the December 15 Legislative meeting, there should either be a report of a settlement with BLCC, or a second vote on eminent domain. 

UPDATE on Tuesday, December 14, 2021: Things are not finalized, but it was reported at this morning’s Agenda meeting  that BLCC and the County have “reached an agreement” and “signed a Letter of Intent” that “resolves the dam issue.” The agreement is to sell a Conservation Easement to Delaware County and “end current litigation” (the 2011 Stipulation Agreement) which had required the reconstruction of a dam with a two-way road.

UPDATE on Tuesday, February 15, 2022: The first reading of a new Eminent Domain Ordinance 2022-2 is on the agenda for tomorrow’s County Council meeting. At this morning’s Agenda meeting, County Solicitor Bill Martin explained that the ordinance is substantively the same as Ordinance 2021-10, which was initiated on October 6, 2021. A new ordinance is necessary due to having a reconstituted County Council after the 2021 elections. Council Vice Chair Elaine Paul Schaefer explained they are reintroducing the ordinance as a means of preserving the County’s options. They have had several months of productive discussions with the landowner (BLCC), and the County remains hopeful that this will be resolved with a Conservation Easement, not Eminent Domain.

UPDATE on Tuesday, May 31, 2022: The agenda for tomorrow’s County Council meeting includes an “Update on Broomall Lake negotiation.” We are hopeful for a positive update that a negotiated Conservation Easement is imminent.

A Conservation Easement would preserve the land bordering Glen Providence Park through a negotiated settlement instead of eminent domain, with BLCC being financially compensated with a lump-sum payment in return for the parcel in question being “maintained in perpetuity as undeveloped property” — without a new dam. A bridge, not a dam, would reconnect Upper Providence and Media Borough.

Friends of Glen Providence Park continues to support dam removal (partially completed in 2017), stream restoration, and a community discussion about an environmentally sensitive bridge to reconnect Media Borough and Upper Providence. When the dam was partially removed in 2017, we led a neighbor coalition that presented a proposal to County Council for a footbridge at 3rd Street. We were disappointed that the footbridge was not installed due to cost and permitting considerations.

For more information on the complex and evolving Broomall’s Dam project, start with our Broomall’s Dam overview with links to dozens of articles, and visit the website of our sister organization, Keep Media Green

Read Ordinance 2021-10, with its diagram of the 4.7 acres, below.

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