ADAMS TWP — A Thursday night meeting on the progress of the Glade Run Lake Conservancy featured several state and local government officials who back the group’s efforts to raise $4 million to restore the drained Middlesex Township lake.
State Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-40th, sent his chief of staff to speak, and Gov. Tom Corbett sent his southwest region representative. However, neither state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12th, nor his representative were among the speakers.
When asked by an audience member why Metcalfe was not represented on the panel, Siggy Pehel, conservancy president, said he would not disparage Metcalfe.
Metcalfe has stated in the past that the funds to repair the dam and refill the 52-acre lake should be raised privately and not from the state.
Pehel said, “I can’t force someone to do something they don’t want to do.”
He urged audience members who asked about Metcalfe’s support for the conservancy not to put him on the spot.
“But either you’re behind us or you’re not,” Pehel said, apparently referring to Metcalfe. “Some people need to step up to the plate.”
Vulakovich’s chief of staff, Melissa Farabaugh, said state funding for the project would be a sound investment because the purchase of fishing licenses and boating permits connected to the lake would provide revenue for the state.
Mary Ann Eisenreich, who represents Corbett, said the governor will stand with Vulakovich in any action he supports regarding funding for the lake.
Pehel said a representative from Metcalfe’s office was in the audience, but that person did not identify himself or speak.
But a number of people pledged their support at the meeting:
• Butler County Commissioner Jim Eckstein said the commissioners must offer much more than the “embarrassing” amount of $4,000 from the county’s legacy funds generated through state gas drilling impact fees
• Jack Cohen, president of the county tourism and convention bureau, pledged any assistance to the conservancy through marketing or publicity for the effort
• Scot Fodi, Middlesex Township manager, said the supervisors have pledged an annual donation to the conservancy of $10,000 for three years
• Mars School Board President Dayle Ferguson, who also is a member of the conservancy, touted the Centennial School’s recent cooperation with the conservancy on an extensive educational project.
Pehel announced that the conservancy has raised $115,000 and now has 1,700 members since its inception in August 2011 after the lake was drained and its fish removed.
He said the lake must be restored because it was a regional attraction for more than 50 years through fishing, boating, hiking, bird watching, or simply the enjoyment of a quiet and beautiful natural setting.
Gerry Woomer of the state Fish and Boat Commission explained that the lake was built in 1955 with an understanding that the dam would last 50 years.
He said when evidence of seepage was found a few years ago, it was determined that the dam was faulty and caused a potential hazard.
Woomer said commission officials determined that 150 people and 50 households would be harmed if the dam failed, and that a significant loss of life could occur.
But Woomer said while funding is an issue to restore the lake, the commission has hired a design consultant and has seen 95 percent completion of a design, identified remedies for spillway replacement, and added a drainage system to the lake’s design plans.
He said the next action would be completing the design, getting funding, and completing the bid process to restore the lake.
Construction would take 12 to 18 months, then the lake would be stocked with fish once it was refilled.
Pehel said while several fundraisers have bolstered the conservancy’s coffers, he hopes to get support from corporations and increase membership in the conservancy to raise both funds and awareness.
“We’re here to get this fixed, improve the property, and leave this legacy for our kids and their kids,” he said.
Information on the effort to restore the lake is at gladerunlakeconservancy.org.