|State Senator John Eichelberger Faces Concerned Citizens At Central Fulton High School|
|State Senator John Eichelberger|
|PFBC Employee Giving Presentation|
|Roger Adams: Chief -Division of Dam Safety-DEP|
At the conclusion of the presentation Senator Eichelberger invited comments or questions from the Fulton County Commissioners. Commissioner, Rodney McCray took the floor and asked state officials to clarify for his understanding that this is two problems, a seepage problem and a spillway problem, which they agreed was correct. McCray went on say,"I know that this is going to be an ongoing conversation between our office and the departments so I want to frame my questions very carefully because I want to be able to carry on a conversation in the future". McCray asked by for a show of hands from the officials if they had in fact personally visited the dam site and all indicated they had. McCray further stated that the primary concerns of the Commissioners was to save the dam and the safety of those downstream.
Several concerned citizens also spoke. One expressed concerns that the taxpayers would be stuck with paying the bill, while another said, "The Game Commission owns it, DER owns it, the Fish Commission owns it" and then went on to question what became of all of the money taken in from hunting and fishing licenses, and the timber sale money from when the back side of the mountain was cut off
Other comments ranged from the one from a recent retiree who is concerned about the loss of the lake as a fishing spot and the possible effect on the water table, to one by a long time resident who lives directly downstream from the dam. He explained that if the dam failed the water first comes through a 75-80' wide gorge and it would come like a bullet or like a shot out of a cannon.
McConnellsburg realtor, Anthony D'Anna made a lengthy, and impassioned plea to officials and the audience. He began by asking the panel how many lived in Fulton County and none did. Then he asked where each was from and the responses were: Blair, Centre,Cumberland, and Perry counties.
|Anthony D'Anna Asks, "What is the action Plan?"|
He then asked if anyone had done a study about the economic impact on Fulton County of the loss of the Meadow Grounds Dam. D'Anna explained how this personally affected him as a real estate agent, but took pains to emphasize that he was using his personal example to illustrate the broader problem and that the influx of residents attracted by areas such as The Meadow Grounds and Cowans Gap is beneficial to the economy of the county as a whole. He went on to say this about the decision to drain the dam “This doesn't seem, it doesn't feel like it was really thought out, this just seems like all of a sudden, hey lets go close the Meadow Grounds Lake down and it just doesn't seem from what you are saying that this is really thought out. I mean I think we all feel the same way, right from the beginning when we read this article in the Public Opinon--the Commissioners didn't know about it (D'Anna's talking is drowned in applause from audience at this point) " I'm asking you ,did you? have you thought about it? as far as it sounds like you're tempting us basically with a little bit of an action plan with starting to get a grass roots movement-I think it's already here-this is the grass roots movement, we're looking to you for what is the action plan for saving the lake.OK”
This brings us to the crux of the problem. The lack of communication between agencies and officials on this problem has been little short of astounding. The PFBC and DEP acted alone in studying the problem and deciding what to do and then presented local officials and the public with what is literally an accomplished fact. It certainly has the appearance of being done in such a manner that no one would have a chance to oppose it until was too late. At this point if it is not too late to reverse the decision, it is certainly at the eleventh hour and the clock is ticking rapidly as the lake gets lower each day.
|Migratory Waterfowl, and Other Wildlife Will Be Negatively Impacted By Loss Of Lake|
Now it seems the most likely outcome will be for the dam to remain empty for an extended time, while officials develop a rehabilitation plan and try to secure funding to implement it. Would it not have been better for all agencies and officials involved to interface with each other and the public from the first moment that problems were first perceived with the dam and started working toward a solution. They could have worked on securing funding in the intervening years, but now it is extremely likely that at best the lake will remain empty for several years to come. This will have a negative impact on the citizens of Fulton County, the oudoor enthusiasts from a wide surrounding area, and last but not least a thriving aquatic community, and large numbers of migratory waterfowl.
Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.