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The Resident's Story

Residents concerns to constructing the Middle Interceptor in the environmentally sensitive and pristine neighborhood of Arcola.

Our Story:

 We are not political. We are grass roots citizens of America who take seriously the stewardship God has entrusted us with. It is our land, our inheritance, a gift from the Creator

It all started when we the citizens living along this beautiful stretch of God's land on Arcola Road along the Perkiomen Creek were served a letter in 2008 from lpvrsa asking permission to come on our land to survey for the paralleling of the Perkiomen Creek Interceptor. Naturally we assumed it was to be where the existing pipe is located, on the other side of the Perkiomen Creek. It was over a year later that we were to find out their intent.

 Most of the residents have lived here and owned property all their lives for several generations. It starts with Hoy Park, donated by Mr. and Mrs. Hoy to Lower Providence Township for a recreational area where any one can put their boat in the creek and go along one of the only natural beautifully preserved waterways in this township. It is lined with gorgeous, huge trees that are hundreds of years old along undeveloped wetlands and natural habitats. With the mountain on one side of the creek and the beautiful scenery and land on the other side, it is one of the most beautiful spots in our township, and it is open for anyone to enjoy.

  There are Bald Eagles, and birds of all types, lots of good fishing and wildlife, including a family of minx and river otters. Some residents have seen the endangered Red Belly Turtle, and one young boy actually thinks he saw the infamous 'Bog Turtle'. We are even gifted with a beautiful swan who visits the Creek several months out of each year and a newly born spotted fawn who calls the woods home. These are animals of peace.  Many people canoe and kayak and can just get away and enjoy nature as do hundreds of people each year.

So you can imagine how shocked we were when we were served in Dec. 2009 (Christmas eve!) notices of CONDEMNATION of our land for a sewer line with a massive 5ft gravity pipe, to be blasted 20ft down in the ground with a 70ft wide construction easement to go through this beautiful stretch of land, wrecking havoc on the landscape, the Perkiomen Creek and destroying the trees, wildlife and delicate environmental balance.

We’ve been told it’s only a temporary destruction of the environment and that they can grow grass back and it will be alright. But we ALL know it will look like a WAR ZONE, which is why we say the proposed one million dollar 'repair money' for after the damage is done is not the best solution.  Nothing can replace trees and wet lands that have been there for hundreds of years holding erosion down and providing beauty and habitat for wildlife. Why would you spend money to repair when you can spend money wisely to avoid?

Pumps will have to run night and day with massive heavy equipment plowing through our peaceful neighborhood creating dirt, mud and noise pollution for over a 2 year period or greater. You know what that will do to the animals and wildlife let alone people.  It is a fact that if you dig just 2 ft down in this area you hit solid rock. They will have to dynamite blast relentlessly costing more money as they run into these obstacles. Wells and foundations of the homes may be affected. Birds and the wildlife that are indigenous to this area will disappear. Boaters will look upon what was once a scenic retreat to an ugly scar, a remnant of what once was. We will not see the restoration in our life time. Those who knew the pristine beauty of the Perkiomen Watershed will say... WHY did we let this happen? WHY?

 Isn't this the cry of the people in this nation that look on the destruction of the environment and say WHY didn't someone stop them?  One look at an area that proves it will never be the same is where lpvrsa installed the Lower Interceptor across the creek from Hoy Park!

 On top of the clearly common sense destruction that will occur to the environment and recreation area, there is the SAFTEY and pollution factor. SEVERE FLOODING occurs along this section of the Perkiomen Creek several times a year. It is the most powerful thing to see the force of water and trees that come at lightning speed down the Perkiomen during peaks of flooding. People have lost their lives in these floods multiple times. We have seen the force of trees CRUSH bridges. What used to be called the Twin Bridges on Arcola Road crossing the Skippack Creek were CRUSHED like a soda can by huge trees.  

The proposed sewer line will mean multiple MAN HOLES along the Perkiomen Creek banks and in the actual water way, and with the man holes come LIDS that are removed for maintenance work. These lids can come off and we predict will be knocked off by the force of these trees during floods. If and when that happens, potentially tens of thousands of gallons of raw sewage a minute will be dumped into the creek with its disease infecting pollution all along this area, clean up will cost thousands and thousands of dollars and years to restore.

Prevention of disasters like this are imperative. This has happened in the past in nearby areas which resulted in the area being closed down to the residents. The smell was atrocious. Residents will be forced from their homes.  CAN it happen? YES....then what will we say? WHY did we let them do this?  The age old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" holds true here....

 Lower Providence Township headed the stand to protect Hoy Park and its residents by looking for an alternative location and have received criticism from neighboring townships for their commitment and opposition from lpvrsa

 In May of 2010, Residents and LPT worked together to organize a walk through where people from all over the community came to protest the destruction calling for an alternative location of the pipe. Senator Rafferty, State Rep. Verb, representatives from DEP, Pa. Army Core of Engineers, Fish and Wildlife and other permitting agencies came to listen to the concerns of the people and to see first hand this beautiful stretch of God's earth that we want to protect. 

 In addition to the environmental issues, there is history in our soil. There is a big old stone wall, 6ft high and 6 ft wide that runs for over 120ft, that could date back to the Civil War that risks destruction and could never be replaced to its original state, even if direction bore drilling techniques were attempted, the high vibration would cause destabilization of the structure which will ultimately lead to its demise under the force of flood waters. 

 A prehistoric Indian Settlement was discovered in the path of destruction. A phase 2 study was done and it was determined that it dates back to 1000 -1300 A.D. It has been determined that a phase 3 study is required at a very large additional cost in money and time. An intact cooking hearth and over 500 more artifacts were found.  This site is eligible to be registered in the National Registry for Historical Sites.  The remainder of artifacts deserve to be left in their resting place undisturbed and intact where they have been for over a thousand years, A reputable archeologist has stated  that directional bore drilling would not be beneficial in preserving the ancient site due to the impossibility of determining depth of the artifacts.  These important findings alone should prevent the sewer line from going through here.

 There are several homes that are in the direct path of the proposed sewer route where the families have lived since 1945. These houses would be made inhabitable and inevitably be destroyed.

 Then the discovery came that this location was never approved in the Act 537 Plan, which is a mandatory sewer agreement. The approved location was to follow the existing line in previously disturbed area in the preexisting right away!  They CONDEMNED our land with out the proper authority!

 Hence, DEP finally confirmed the decision that this area is NOT an approved location for the sewer line. We all thought this was the end of the nightmare and rejoiced!  Not quite, lpvrsa still wants to put the sewer here!  Why? Why do they keep fighting even after all the facts have been revealed and community and township objection have been expressed?

 As a result of lpvrsa's 537 plan error, DEP has required that all 6 municipalities in the regional sewer authority update their 537 plans. If lpvrsa wants to relocate the sewer line on to the properties along the Perkiomen Creek, all municipalities will have to vote unanimously to amend the existing 537 plan for the relocation.

 There are alternatives to this location that will save both sides of the watershed which was supposed to be studied by a 'non biased', independent engineer to analyze the costs of all the alternatives.

 DEP has made a suggestion for an alternative that would avoid both sides of the creek , offering lpvrsa an ‘Olive Branch’ of compromise. It could be approved right away. Yet lpvrsa still insists on having it on the Arcola side and now has voted against hiring a third party engineer to do the alternative studies to see what the options truly are. Instead they want to use their engineer, who is the one they used in the past and who is also the engineer for Upper Providence, creating what we believe is a conflict of interest. We fear the study will be biased  

 

The reason that Lower Providence and the other municipalities along with DEP initially wanted a third party engineer to do the alternative location study was to assure accuracy and an unbiased perspective.

 

The hiring of the independent engineer was initially agreed to by the lpvrsa board. Yet, unknown to us why, the lpvrsa held a special meeting and reversed their vote. The representative for Lower Providence objected to this vote.  Again we ask WHY did lpvrsa reverse their decision. Why can we not honestly with integrity look at the alternatives with the mutual goal of doing everything in our power to SAVE the environment and this destruction from happening?

 

  As you can see these concerns go far beyond “not  in our back yards”, yet that is bad too. Anyone who is reading this would not want manholes at a potential flood height of 12ft or greater in their yards where their kids and pets play or where your eating at your picnic tables. 

But the greater picture is the PRINCIPLE of saving a piece of our earth for generations to come! We do not want to answer to OUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN... when they ask, WHY DID THEY LET THIS HAPPEN? When they look at old photographs and see what it used to look like!  There are some things that are worth fighting for, esp. when there ARE alternatives.

If united we can do the RIGHT thing!

  As Teddy Roosevelt once said in his antiquity act, 'leave the land be, the ages have had their work, man will only destroy it.'

 Thank you for listening,

 Concerned Residents of the Community

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ida Marre August 08, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Wow, what a story, I am so sorry to hear how you people have been treated by the regional sewer authority. Someone should do something about it and make them abide by the law, not trample upon it. Who appoints these people? How do we get rid of them? I can't help believe that there is something terribly wrong here. What can the residents do to help!
Fauxy August 08, 2012 at 07:39 PM
admin@lpvrsa.org or www.lpvrsa.org
Catherine Beyer August 08, 2012 at 10:32 PM
You already have helped just by your empathy! Hopefully we will be able to post some type of petition that will show the voice of the people :)
SMYRNA-X August 09, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Its scary when local interests are not addressed by larger govt organizations. As a transplant to the area im shocked that the river areas are not used and enjoyed more by locals. Hasnt the arcola area put up with enough destruction considering the superfund site. Where are the eco nuts when you really need one?
Catherine Beyer August 09, 2012 at 10:00 PM
I agree Smyrna-X it is scarey. And your right, where are the eco nuts? :) If the video posted with the aritcle would work ( hmmm, sorry about that) you would be able to see how much this section of the river is used. This summer it hasn't been used as much as usual, I think because of the low water lever and it being so hot and humid. No matter it is very much cherished and sometimes just great to look at without actually jumping in or riding a boat :)

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