Aug 1, 2014

Wehr's Bridge and Dam

Wehr Mill Road goes over Wehr's Covered Bridge, next to Wehr's Dam. The dam and bridge combination compose one of the most picturesque sights in the valley. While the township and county value the bridge, the dam is on trial. Next week, while the bridge is being inspected for possible damage by an overweight truck, myself and some new allies will be defending the dam. While the truck driver was arrested and will be prosecuted for damaging the bridge, the Wildlands Conservancy was given permission to plan the dam's destruction. William Wehr and Robert Schantz, direct descendants of the two covered bridge namesakes which anchor the park, and myself, will present South Whitehall Commissioners with 600 signatures to save the iconic dam. It's our contention that the dam should be added to the ordinance with the bridge, which was recently incorporated into the township's new historic overlay district.

Addendum:  After advocating for the dam in front of the Commissioners three times,  I know that they would prefer the status quo described as such;  The Commissioners have not yet approved or disapproved of the dam's demolition, the conservancy was given permission to proceed with doing a "study" that the commissioners will then take into consideration when complete.

photo by K Mary Hess

8 comments:

Dreaming of Justice said...

People who support the preservation-and I dare say, restoration- of Wehr's Mill Dam should be there at the Lehigh County Commissioners meeting too. A group of people attending in solidarity plus those signatures will make a visual impact.

Anonymous said...

Dreaming

Lehigh County Commissioners are taking care of the bridge, which is theirs.

South Whitehall Commissioners control the fate of the dam.

michael molovinsky said...

@6:40, these matters are not as clear as one might think. the decision to close the bridge was made jointly by the township and the county. the inspection will be by a state authorized inspector. the decision concerning the dam will be made by the south whitehall commissioners, but even they publicly questioned their authority on that matter.

Anonymous said...

So... who has the authority here on the dam and has there been a vote to do anything with it? I like reading your blog but as of now I have not seen where the Township or County or anyone has said they will remove the dam? Lets get some confirmation that the dam is going to go and then lets see where this all is headed.

michael molovinsky said...

fortunately, the township has not given it's formal approval, if it had, the dam would be gone by now. however, after the wildlands made a presentation to remove the dam, the commissioners gave permission for the wildlands to proceed with their study,and even inquired on how to handle the public which may object. at least one reporter interpreted the dialogue as permission. furthermore, the park master plan has the dam demolished, and the township public works director favors it's removal. i assure you that i and others wouldn't be spending our energy unless the dam was very much in jeopardy. in their haste and arrogance to remove the dam, the wildlands said that the dam is neither historical or aesthetic, of course it's very much of both. furthermore, it is a beloved icon of the park for generations of valley residents. before the current name, covered bridge park, it was known as wehr's dam park.

Anonymous said...

Mike

As I see it;

The conservancy is an unapologetic return to the earth group, with check book in hand. As for SWT, they tend not to be swayed by emotion and apply law and fair justifiable judgement.

As for a study, no harm, no foul and it is free to boot. Why should SWT pass that up? This study could be a good reference should the dam ever have to be removed due to damage or lack of funding to maintain.

I believe the dam should stay and an effort made to preserve our history.

If you look at the study for the proposed "Greenway" corridor you will see it is not only a mere walking path, the conservancy wants a say in an area twice the size of the 100 year flood plain. Scary stuff in regards to property rights as far as I am concerned.

Good luck in this endeavor. I shall seek out Mr. Shantz today and add my name to the petition.

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michael molovinsky said...

anon@8:27, if you fail to connect with schantz or wehr to sign the paper petition prior to wednesday, please sign the internet version, which can be accessed by the click spot on this blog's sidebar. thank you.

Anonymous said...

Mike

I did connect with Mr. Schantz this morning and the deed is done. Thank you for all that you do.

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