COUNTY—The Wayne County Commissioners sent a letter to Governor Tom Wolf requesting an in-person, onsite meeting at the Hankins Pond Dam in Mount Pleasant Township to discuss solutions for the high hazard dam that don't require 150-200 feet of the historic structure to be removed.
“While we understand the funding restraints of the Fish and Boat Commission as it relates to this particular project, we are hopeful that a public-private partnership to resolve the high-hazard dam concerns of PA DEP and the historic preservation desires of many residents can be achieved,” states the letter in part.
Prior to sending their request, the Commissioners launched a petition signing campaign to garner support across the county.
The final tally, revealed at the Commissioners' weekly business meeting last Thursday, August 16, came out to 1,135 signatures, all of which were included in the letter to the Governor.
“The issue at this point in time is cost,” stated Board of Commissioners Chairman Brian Smith at last Thursday's meeting. “There's a certain amount of money allocated from Fish and Boat and they have to be able to do what they have to do to deal with regulations that declare this a high-hazard dam.”
Funding for the project was allocated through a $53 million statewide campaign to address issues with ten dams, five of which including Hankins Pond Dam exist in Wayne County.
Smith noted the current solution for Hankins Pond is to carve a trapezoidal breach out of the dam, narrow at the base and wide at the top, to allow water to flow freely through the area.
Given the historical quality of the site and the public support to save it, Smith said, “We think that there could be other solutions and there could be a way to handle that without much of an increase in dollar amount from Fish and Boat.”
The Fish and Boat Commission filed for a permit to create the breach last fall which has since been approved.
If nothing changes, demolition could begin this fall.
As earlier reported, while the dam has been drained since 2013, experts in the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) have said the dam still poses a threat to property owners down stream.
The structure can potentially collect large amounts of water during a major flood event which may rupture the dam and send large amounts of water rushing to the residents below.
When PFBC applied for the demolition permit last fall, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA-DEP) estimated there to be nine at-risk individuals downstream of Hankins Pond Dam.
The dam was built in the 1830s as a feeder dam for the Delaware and Hudson Canal and later repurposed as a breeding pool for PFBC.