voted on a direction to take the 3rd Street Project at its meeting Thursday night and took the first step of many that will move the project forward after 16 years.
Council voted 5-2 in favor of notifying the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation that the direction of the 3rd Street Project be to replace the existing dam with another dam structure that has both a vehicular and pedestrian component, consistent with the three-way stipulation between the borough, county and Broomall's Lake County Club made in May 2011.
Councilmen Kent Davidson and Paul Robinson voted against the direction.
Council President Brian Hall said the purpose of Thursday's vote was to give PennDOT a direction as to which way the project was going. The design of the project would be decided at a later date.
Several council members referenced during their discussion and while they all did not agree with the stipulation, they all agreed the stipulation binds council to replacing the dam.
In May 2011, the borough, Delaware County and Broomall's Lake County Club entered into an agreement stating that the borough would be responsible for making the repairs to the dam and bridge but the county and Broomalls Lake would be responsible for the maintenance of the dam going forward.
Hall said the three-way stipulation does not address ownership of the dam, which was by design. It was designed as a compromise document after a more than four year lawsuit between the borough, the county and Broomall's Lake over who owned the dam.
"We're bound by it, unless the other two parties agree to modify it," Hall said.
Hall said his personal opinion would be in favor of decommissioning the dam and creating a pedestrian walkway however as an elected official he must vote in favor of what is best for the community, on balance.
He does not want to risk another lengthy lawsuit and cost borough taxpayers even more money as the cost of the project alone, increases five percent each year, Hall said.
Davidson and Robinson both disagreed with the stipulation.
Davidson said the stipulation does not solve the question of who owns the dam and does not protect the borough.
"The stipulation does not solve the issue of ownership...We will be building a $3.7 million dam, which nobody owns," Davidson said, "To me, it's irresponsible to move forward without solving this issue."
Robinson said the stipulation benefits a private club and mandates that public funds be used to build a dam that only benefit a private club while possibly creating an environmental impact to Glen Providence Park.
"The stipulation mandates that a private club has equal decision making with the county and the borough with regards to the building of a public highway," Robinson said. "And the stipulation mandates, but fails to resolve ownership of the dam and poorly references future responsibility of the dam."
Councilwoman Dawn Roe said she has always been in support of repairing the dam and opening the roadway to traffic and said the borough negotiated and unanimously approved the stipulation agreement signed in good faith by all parties.
"It is not our right to violate any portion of that agreement," Roe said. "It is also not our right to dismiss one of the parties rights or wishes because it is a private organization. If the other parties are expected to be fully committed and maintain the dam in the future we must respect their fair and responsible expectations of us now as to the roadways use. To me that has always meant vehicular traffic on that roadway."
Councilwoman Monika Rehoric said she's continuously seen this project stall year after year and three parties entered into the stipulation equally and all signed off on it.
"I just want to see this move forward in the right direction, which is rebuilding what was there," Rehoric said. "...And finally bring this project to a close."