Contributed photo
The Hankins Pond Dam issue is up for state review. 

Wayne’s dam efforts go to the state

HONESDALE, PA — After months of negotiations and volunteer preservation work, Wayne County forwarded its hopes to save the historic Hankins Pond Dam to state officials last week.

Commissioner Joe Adams, who has been in the forefront of the effort since he reported seeing construction equipment being marshaled at the 180-odd year-old dam in Mount Pleasant Township last summer, said the completed engineering study was forwarded to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on March 7. “Now we wait,” he said.

The county commissioners ran an active lobbying effort to save the 1,000-foot laid-stone dam, which was built to provide water for the former Delaware & Hudson Canal, which was responsible for the founding of Honesdale. There were weekly progress reports during the summer months about contacts with the PA Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), which owns the property, and efforts which prompted Gov. Tom Wolf to arrange a multi-agency “Hankins Dam” conference call. 

The combination of an online petition drive hosted on the county website and signatures collected at the commissioners’ Wayne County Fair booth collected close to 1,000 signatures. On September 7, Wayne County Senior Judge Raymond L. Hamill signed a preliminary injunction to “temporarily halt the proposed partial demolition of the Hankins Dam,” while inter-governmental negotiations continued.

Twenty-six feet in height at its center, it impounded a 90-acre pond, where PFBC operated a fish hatchery. Several years-ago, DEP declared it and several other old Wayne dams as high-hazard structures to be removed. A small breach was cut in 1969 to allow a Lackawaxen River tributary to pass through.

 Since then, the pond was drained, but DEP felt the dam could still impound storm volume dangerous to down-stream properties. The agency planned a 150-foot breach, which would essentially destroy the structure. At one point, commissioners’ chair Brian Smith conjectured that “Hopefully, I won’t have lie down on the top of the dam to save it… I just might,” he said.

Adams is optimistic about the effort. Engineer Joe Hudak walked the dam and did a pro-bono hydrological study with stream engineer Bill Dugan. “They have collaborated on a reasonable solution. We’re doing everything we can to provide an alternative.”

In brief agenda business, the commissioners approved a certificate of recognition for the efforts of Honesdale Eagle Scout candidate Justin Bayly, who led a beautification project, cleaning up wooded areas and park land near the Damascus Township Building. Honesdale Troop 1 and Damascus Troop 122 scouts painted a sign, a large pavilion and playground equipment, and removed and replaced railing at the building entrance. Troop 1 is hosting a Court of Honor for Bayly on March 31.


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