Meadow Grounds Lake Group Garners Public Support
“We lost the first round, but we’re going to win the fight,” Scott Alexander told concerned citizens gathered Monday night as part of a first in an ongoing series of meetings hosted by the newly formed group Friends of Meadow Grounds Lake.
A watershed specialist with the Fulton County Conservation District, Alexander stated his interest in restoring Meadow Grounds is both personal and professional. Furthermore, the Conservation District remains “behind the effort,” he said, and is willing to help set up an account to accept taxdeductible donations upon approval from the state Conservation Commission.
Alexander indicated the District will also help locate grant money that could aid in remedying the deficiencies at Roaring Run dam that led to the drawdown of the 204-acre lake and recent fish salvage efforts. In this situation, money could come from a combination of eight to 10 places, he said, as well as local contributions.
Alexander along with Friends of Meadow Grounds Lake founding members Anthony D’Anna, Dayton Tweedy and Johnny Greathead emphasized their overall goal is not to raise the $4 million estimated by Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) for necessary dam repairs. They do, however, hope to raise sufficient money to be earmarked for certain matters such as the completion of an engineering study or even restocking the lake.
The cost of having an engineering study prepared is around $80,000. The money has been requested by PFBC but has not yet been committed. In addition, the study itself must be approved by the Department of Environmental Protection. As a result, it is highly unlikely an independent engineering study commissioned on a local level could be used.
Ninety residents from Fulton County and the surrounding area were on hand to hear the “positive” message from the Friends, who were touted as “having a lot of energy.” To help add legitimacy and lend credibility to their efforts, plans are under way to incorporate and become a nonprofit 501(c) 3 entity.
Phil Harper, a local attorney aiding the group in its endeavors, stated his services were secured only two weeks ago. In that time he has reviewed and altered a set of bylaws offered by the Cumberland County group Friends of Possum Lake. All pieces are reportedly currently in place to begin the incorporation process.
According to D’Anna, the Friends next goal is to conduct a follow-up public meeting in mid- September. In the months leading up to the meeting, D’Anna said they hope to sit down with senators Rich Alloway and John Eichelberger Jr., Rep. Dick Hess and the county commissioners, who as elected officials will represent local residents in the next phase of the project.
Larry Garlock, legislative aide to Rep. Hess, was present during the meeting in the community room of the Fulton County Library as was Sharon Turkovich, aide to Sen. Eichelberger, and Commissioner Craig Cutchall.
“Don’t let off the gas with these guys,” said D’Anna about maintaining pressure and keeping Meadow Grounds on the forefront of local issues. Template letters may be available in the near future on the Friends’ Web site at www.meadowgroundsfriends.org for residents to fill out and mail or e-mail to elected officials and the Governor’s Office, which was apprised of the issue only last week.
Commissioner Cutchall announced his office is hoping for a compromise regardless of who may be right or wrong. Looking to achieve middle ground, Cutchall stated they too are hoping to meet with “key players” prior to the mid-September public meeting.
Taking center stage for the final portion of the June 24 meeting, Dave Miko, PFBC chief of fisheries management, shared details of a letter penned by PFBC Executive Director John Arway to Rep. Hess. In the letter, Arway reportedly asks that funding for Meadow Grounds, one of multiple high-hazard, unsafe dams in the commonwealth, becomes a priority. Arway, according to Miko, pledges PFBC support for matching fundraising efforts and locating and securing grant money. At this time, PFBC is authorized to spend $2.5 million on the project and is seeking an additional $2.2 million from the governor’s capital budget.
Once full-funding is in hand, it could take an additional three to five years until Meadow Grounds is restored. Furthermore, the eight- to 10-year time frame following the restoration will be a “boom cycle” and fishing will be better than ever, the chief of fisheries management emphasized.