Mar 22, 2023

Crimes By The Wildlands Conservancy

photo by Tami Quigley

The top photo shows the Robin Hood Bridge, before the Wildlands Conservancy demolished the little Robin Hood Dam, just downstream beyond the bridge. The dam was only about 10 inches high, and was built as a visual effect to accompany the bridge in 1941. It was the last WPA project in Allentown, and considered the final touch for Lehigh Parkway. Several years ago, the Wildlands told the Allentown Park Director and City Council that it wanted to demolish the dam. The only thing that stood between their bulldozer and the dam was yours truly. I managed to hold up the demolition for a couple weeks, during which time I tried to educate city council about the park, but to no avail. If demolishing the dam wasn't bad enough, The Wildlands Conservancy piled the broken dam rubble around the stone bridge piers, as seen in the bottom photo. I'm sad to report that the situation is now even worse. All that rubble collected silt, and now weeds and brush is growing around the stone bridge piers. I suppose the Wildlands Conservancy considers it an extension of its riparian buffers.

The Wildlands Conservancy is now going to demolish Wehr's Dam at Covered Bridge Park in South Whitehall. The township commissioners are cooperating, by having a grossly inflated price associated with repairing the dam, to justify a disingenuous referendum. Sadly, by next spring I will be showing you before and after pictures of that crime.

top photo by Tami Quigley

above reprinted from August 2016

UPDATE: To everyone's surprise, especially the Wildlands Conservancy and the South Whitehall Commissioners, the referendum to save the dam was approved by the voters in November of 2016. The Wildlands Conservancy and the South Whitehall Commissioners are now conspiring to have the dam demolished anyway, by exaggerating its problems with the Pa. DEP...I have documented the communication between the Wildlands, State and township,  As for Lehigh Parkway, the Wildlands Conservancy should be made to remove the former dam rubble that is despoiling the vista of the Robin Hood Bridge piers.  I have been trying to interest the Morning Call about the voter suppression in regard to the Wehr's Dam referendum.  In today's paper there is an article about the danger high hazard rated dams pose to residents downstream.  I hope the paper's article today is a coincidence, and not intended to serve the Wildlands conspiracy about Wehr's Dam.  BTW,  Wehr's Dam is rated low hazard, because it poses no danger to residents.

reprinted from November of 2019 and before

UPDATE MARCH 22, 2023: I'm pleased with my part in saving Wehr's Dam. In 2014, the former commissioners were ready to approve the dam demolition by the Wildlands Conservancy, and I prevailed upon them to give a couple more weeks for public input. After Allentown city council approved demolishing the small Robin Hood Dam, the Wildlands had it removed within two days. The articles about that South Whitehall meeting alerted several people, including the descendants of Wehr family. The Wehr's and others did a great job campaigning to save the dam. After weeks of rejecting my editorial letter, the Morning Call finally printed my plea to save the dam before the referendum vote. 
The former commissioners still cooperated with the Wildlands Conservancy in their efforts to demolish the dam, even after the referendum. The dam's future was only actually secured with the new current set of commissioners, and the dam itself was only finally repaired this past summer and fall. 

While I now have faith in the future of Wehr's Dam, the Robin Hood Bridge remains a sorry sight. In my opinion, the Wildlands should pay to have the rubble they deposited by the bridge piers removed. But in the meantime, the city should remove the rubble this summer, and pay the bridge beauty some overdue respect.


  1. So I was driving along MLK Drive yesterday and noticed that they have done even more paving of former green areas, this time where southbound 15th Street comes down to MLK.

    What was previously a beautiful triangle of green grass is now a black hole of impervious macadam. This is in addition to paving on the other side of 15th, where the ramps from the bridge had wide swaths of macadam laid over the grass, all along the curve of the ramp.

    While I could perhaps forgive the previous work, filling in the grass triangle is unsightly overkill. I'm sure part of the reason is to save money on mowing costs, and it will soon be filled with road debris that is never picked up. Doubt me? Drive around the city and look at other places they've done this.

    To me, this is a continuing assault on the parks and a sign that they are not interested in improving them. If they won't mow the useless riparian buffers and are paving over other green areas to avoid mowing there, they certainly won't be shelling out to fix the damage at the Robin Hood Bridge.

    This being an election year, it would be nice to see our city council candidates holding news conferences at these areas and standing up for the parks. Sadly, I doubt we'll see or hear anything like that from anyone aspiring to be in City Hall, much less from those already there.

  2. Nothing says “Welcome to our city” in a more positive way than meticulously maintained public spaces. This includes all the smaller turn in entry spaces. Other cities know this.

  3. If they pave it they don't have to cut it. Pretty simple solution That's why half of the parkway isn't mowed either. Only the part between South Jefferson and the now blocked Klein's bridge. Everything else just goes to seed.

    However we can spend time and money honoring groups at city hall.