Sep 6, 2014

Walking With The New Park Director

I had respectfully requested, through the City Clerk, that City Council visit Robin Hood before any decision, to both see and hear the dam. Furthermore, I volunteered to take them, at their convenience, on a quick tour of the park's remaining WPA structures. Several days later, the clerk contacted me to confirm a time for me to show two council members the sites. I was delighted to hear that the new park director, John Mikowychok, would be joining us. Yesterday was the appointment, and John and I were the first to arrive. As we stood on the bridge, John told me that only 90% of the dam was being removed, and the portion near the water monitoring station would remain. I was shocked, I didn't know that the decision to remove the dam had already been determined. He then informed me that the Wildland's Conservancy was coming, and after learning the details from them on Robin Hood, we would proceed to the dams near the fish hatchery, also scheduled to be removed. The Conservancy crew arrived, with plans and documents in hand. Also by then, Council members Cynthia Mota and Jeff Glazier arrived, but my delight was gone. John explained the agenda, that first Wildland's would brief them about Robin Hood, then they would move on to the Fish Hatchery. I reminded the council members that they were there at my invitation, to see the dam, and then tour the WPA sites. To their credit, Glazier and Mota told Mikowychok that before going to the fish hatchery dams, they would take the tour with me. I wanted them to see how many park features previous park directors had arbitrarily destroyed, and perhaps be more inclined to preserve the dam.

I showed Mikowychok the abandoned island and the boat landing, things that he never saw before, or even knew existed. I found his indifference to the demise of these wonderful constructions astounding. When I criticized the tall thin weed wall blocking the entire creek view, he replied that a row of single tall weeds was better than none. He actually told Mota that the creek was more enticing when you could only get a glimpse of it here and there. It made me think of an old arcade peep show machine. It's too bad that the city hired another lobbyist for the Wildland's Conservancy as Park Director, instead of a defender of our unique park system, however, it's no surprise.  Both the out of town park directors were hired by the same out of town city manager. All three of them, four including the mayor, have no knowledge or appreciation of the formerly nationally recognized park system, in the former All American City. Wildland's was spouting voodoo science. They actually said that there's no fecal count in the creek, despite my photographs of creek shores filled with toilet paper. In order for them to harvest the current grant they must demolish the dam by the end of September. From the grant they also harvest administrative fees. The dam dates from the early 1940's, and has delighted five generations with it's sight and sound. The hard press is on City Council to approve this latest destruction with virtually no deliberation. I ask those who appreciate beauty and ambience to help me save our history.

UPDATE: The post above is reprinted from August 17, 2013.  John Mikowychok, the new park director referred to above,  has resigned.   Less than three months after being hired, Mikowychok recommended to City Council that the Wildlands Conservancy be allowed to destroy two picturesque historic dams on the Little Lehigh.  The Wildlands Conservancy deposited the demolished WPA Robin Hood Dam rubble around the Robin Hood Bridge,  ruining the visual effect of the iconic stone piers.  The demolished Trout Nursery Dam contributed to the recent record fish kill.  We have lost 75 years of history to a person who was here for 15 months.  I will have more to say about park directors with no knowledge of the park system  and the Wildlands Conservancy's self serving agenda in subsequent posts.  Let us hope that South Whitehall has more respect for Wehr's Dam and it's history.

LVCI also covers Mikowychok's departure


Dreaming of Justice said...


What. Fools!

So sick and tired of the cheesy way things are done in this town.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Gross and General Trexler celebrated their vision of Jordon Park finally a reality thanks to WPA. I imagine they never envisioned an electronic billboard would someday litter the landscape. Preserved for future they thought.