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Molovinsky against dam demolition

South Whitehall resident Michael Molovinsky, a blogger who describes himself as a "nonpartisan catalyst for policy change in Allentown and the greater Lehigh Valley," is not happy with the proposal to demolish Wehr's Dam at Covered Bridge Park.

Commissioners recently approved a plan from the Wildlands Conservancy to seek funding for a thorough engineering and design study for the possible removal of the dam and restoration of the stream corridor.

At the June 18 meeting board President Christina "Tori" Morgan stated, "Commissioners did not vote to get rid of the dam."

Morgan said commissioners approved the Wildlands study but not the actual elimination of the dam. However, the Covered Bridge Park Master Plan, which was adopted by commissioners in February, advocates removal of Wehr's Dam.

In a presentation last month, Vice President of Conservation for the Wildlands Conservancy Abigail Pattishall said elimination of the dam would have environmental, economic and public safety benefits.

"Keeping this dam is not an option," Pattishall said, at the time. "It's a hunk of concrete."

At the June 18 meeting, Molovinsky, who has announced his intention to run as an Independent for state Rep. Julie Harhart's seat in the 183rd Legislative District in the November election, defended the appearance of the dam.

"It is stunning to hear Wehr's Dam is not aesthetically pleasing," Molovinsky said. "I find that statement shocking."

He said the dam site is enjoyed not only by the general public but also by photographers looking for a scenic view.

He also commented on the public safety issue.

"The dam is no more dangerous today than it was five months ago, five years ago, or 25 years ago," Molovinsky said.

He expressed an interest in the role of the dam in local history.

The 110-year -old dam was built to supply water power for a grist mill.

It stands as a remembrance of the families who operated mills along Jordan Creek and their contributions to township history, Molovinsky. said

"I believe preserving this property - the traditions and icons of the township - is your main trust," he told commissioners. "This is more important than facilitating the agenda of the Wildlands Conservancy."

Molovinsky then turned his attention to the matter of riparian buffers, which he said are controversial areas susceptible to invasive species.

Molovinsky disputed the idea removal of the dam would enhance the environment for fish.

"We have a fish population now both above and below the dam," Molovinsky said.

He appealed to commissioners to save the dam.

"Covered Bridge Park commemorates the history and beauty of South Whitehall Township," he said. "There may be some maintenance and expense of keeping the dam, but this is the legacy of the future children of South Whitehall. Preserving these things is a sacred trust you've been honored to uphold.

"It's up against a powerful adversary the Wildlands Conservancy.

"Covered Bridge Park is not a wildlands. It's a park."

Commissioners took the matter under advisement without discussion.