Muhlenberg residents express concern for dog park

MUHLENBERG TWP., Pa. - Twenty to 30 residents, representing about 200 people, attended Monday night’s Muhlenberg Township commissioners meeting to express their concern over the drilling scheduled for June 26 by the Muhlenberg Township Authority at the dog park at Jim Dietrich Park.

The commissioners said they understood how popular the dog park is with residents and assured them that they were not in danger of losing the park.

The purpose of the drilling is to determine the best source of water within the township, according to Commissioner John Imhoff.

"They're drilling a hole in the dog park, but it’s just an exploratory well. It doesn’t mean that the dog park is going to be eliminated,"  Imhoff said. "Exploration has to be done because we have wells in this township that have been going continuously for 30 years plus, and they are concerned that – and they're being proactive about this – if one of these wells starts going down, we're going to have a situation where we won't have enough water in this township."

Commissioner Steve Wolfinger said about 22,000 people in the township need water and fewer need a dog park. He also said that the location of viable sources of water is limited, and there are plenty of places within the 110-acre Jim Dietrich Park where a dog park could be moved if needed.

Commissioner Michael Malinowski expressed his concern about the legality of using the park as a water source since the land for the park was donated by Faye Deitrich for the purpose of providing open space to the community.

In other business, Jim Biobeck, the township's parks director, gave a presentation about devising a pollutant reduction plan as part of the public education session mandated by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for the renewal of the current National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. He said the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer (MS4) Program is an unfunded mandate from the DEP.

Muhlenberg Township is required to reduce the sedimentation in the Laurel Run Creek by 10 percent -- 102,700 pounds -- over the next five years. The MS4 Program encompasses the storm sewer system, any conveyance of storm water, pipes, ditches, swails and roads, and may include both structural BMPs (best management practices) such as dry detention basins, wet ponds, stream bank restoration, vegetated swails, and tree planting; and nonstructural BMPs such as street sweeping and storm drain cleaning.

Biobeck said the cost has not yet been determined and will depend in large part on how much the project can be subsidized by federal and state grants. Malinowski said the price to meet this obligation could exceed $1 million.

The commissioners voted to authorize the township solicitor to prepare and advertise a resolution summarizing the study; it will be discussed further at July's board meeting.

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