Judge Halts Demolition of Dam in Wayne County

HONESDALE, Pa. -- A judge has temporarily halted the demolition of an old dam in Wayne County that was set to begin on Monday.

The Wayne County commissioners went to court Thursday to stop the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission from tearing down the rest of the old Hankins Pond Dam in Mount Pleasant Township.

The county commissioners are fighting the demolition of the Hankins Pond Dam because of what they say is its historical significance to the community.

The Fish and Boat Commission wants to tear it down because they say it's a hazard.

Cranes and bulldozers won't be knocking down a dam that dates back to the 1800s in Pleasant Mount Township in Wayne County anytime soon. A court order is delaying demolition of Hankins Pond Dam that was scheduled for next week.

Bob Ogozaly lives just down the street from the dam.

"I think they ought to delay it permanently because that's a historical piece of history," said Ogozaly.

The Fish and Boat Commission planned to knock down a large section of the Hankins Pond Dam because they say it's a hazard.

At the request of county commissioners, a judge issued an injunction bringing the project to a temporary halt.

"We think there's a historical significance there that really we'd like to have an alternative solution other than ripping a hole right up the middle of the dam. Another concern of ours is the concrete cover at bottom of the dam is something that the fire companies up there utilize for sucking water out of in case of a fire," said Wayne County Commissioner Brian Smith.

The dam was originally breached in 2013, but the DEP still considers it a hazard because of the potential for stormwater to build up behind the rest of the structure.

"Now they want to tear these things down and destroy them and you're going to lose them forever. They really aren't posing a threat in the scheme of things," Ogozaly said.

Carol Dunn, executive director at the Wayne County Historical Society, says her team put together some information to give to commissioners to help save the dam. it was part of the canal system getting Pennsylvania coal to New York City.

"This isn't just a bunch of old rocks. This is a really historic spot in our county," Dunn said.

Previous negotiations between the state agencies involved and the county failed to reach an agreement on saving the dam.

Residents started a petition drive in June to save the dam that was built in the early 1800s as part of the Delaware and Hudson Canal system.

A hearing on the status of the dam is scheduled for September 19.

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