Oct 11, 2014

South Whitehall Commissioners Double Down On Master Plan

It's the year 2030, and a young girl asks her mom if they can go to Playworld's Plastic Playground. As they enter the parking lot, the mother tells her daughter that right beyond that large swath of trees and bushes, is where she played as a girl with grandmother.
  Why did you play there? the girl asks
  Grandmom used to like and sit and look at the dam, the mother replies
  What's a dam?
  It's a wall that the creek water would flow over.
  Is there a creek there mom?

In January of 2014 the South Whitehall Commissioners adopted the Covered Bridge Park Master Plan. It was an expensive plan created by a landscape architectural firm in tandem with input from the Wildlands Conservancy. The public input meetings were either sparsely attended or not at all. What emerged is a unimaginative hodge podge of contemporary environmental hocus pocus and catalog recreational tubberware. What is gone is the beautiful park, enjoyed by generations of township residents. The environmentalists would demolish the dam and replace the vista with a 75 foot wide riparian buffer. This buffer would run the entire length of creek, leaving only a glimpse of the creek as residents cross one of the three bridges. Former icons of the park, such as the dam, would be represented by interpretive signs. A huge playground, featuring Playworld equipment, would be the park's new centerpiece, replacing the current beauty and history.

Enter the Wildlands Conservancy in June of 2014, realizing that the Commissioners are invested both financially and mentally into the Master Plan. Out of this opportunity, they declare that demolishing Wehr's Dam is now their highest priority. We who are defending Wehr's Dam are here to tell you that like water over the dam, the money spent on the Master Plan is gone. However, we will not allow the beautiful park to be lost to our children and grandchildren, just to accommodate the Wildlands Conservancy's agenda.
photograph by Mary K Hess

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that $200,000 is being spent on a study of wehr's dam.

michael molovinsky said...

@11:14, it's worse than you can imagine, the park master plan already covered much of the material. they're spending the money, grants from our tax money, to give the commissioners cover to approve demolishing the dam. it has already been established by the DEP that the dam has no real structural problem, so they must now fabricate mountains out of imaginary molehills. while the actual dam repairs would probably cost $12,000, they're willing to waste a $half million dollars (between the two studies) to try and justify it's demolition. it's to the point where the commissioners should be ashamed of their participation in this sham. as for the wildlands, they have been phonies for years.

Taz Martin said...

I don't understand how they can possibly justify such wasteful spending. Why isn't this being reported on the news so people can see that they are only doing this damage to parks and public land to secure more and more grant money for their own benefit and not to preserve anything? There has to be some way for this to be reported and they should be prosecuted for this. Where is the justice? They have to be stopped somehow.

Taz Martin said...

Also to any people who think that your scary scenario about Playland's Plastic Playground is overblown, all anyone has to do is look at what has been done to Cedar Creek Park in Allentown between Ott st. and Cedar Crest Blvd. with the weeds blocking public access to the creek. And on the other side of Ott st. by the pool is an actual Plastic Playground just as you describe. How awful that this was done to this once beautiful park.This must not be allowed to happen in South Whitehall by destroying the dam and growing weeds. The Wildland's Conservancy must be stopped from any further destruction, and public officials must be held accountable for allowing it to happen. 1538

michael molovinsky said...

taz@7:06, the playground at cedar beach is a success and very popular with children and their parents. the plan there was also to build a dorney park type water park on the grass above the pool's parking lot, all the way up to Hamilton street, thankfully even allentown's rubber stamp council realized the absurdness of that. i have no problem with an improved playground at covered bridge, but not instead of the dam. you're correct about the riparian buffer blocking both access and view of the cedar creek. ironically, the storm sewers are piped directly into the creek, making the buffer useless for it's supposed purpose. each fall, after the park goers have been denied access all summer, the park dept. must cut down the buffer anyway, to control the invasive species in the buffer. i would have guessed that the south whitehall commissioners would govern on a higher level, but there might be a connection between some commissioners and the conservancy, which is not being disclosed.