WOOLWICH TWP. – At their Sept. 19 meeting, the Woolwich Township Committee discussed the unsafe conditions of the Warrington Mill dam which caused the closing of Mill Road on Sept. 1.
The road was closed after the inspection on Sept. 1 by the New Jersey Department of Environment Protection (DEP), showed a possible instability in the dam. The DEP will have 30 days from the time of the inspection to provide the township with both short and long-term solutions to the dam safety.
The privately owned dam is listed as owned by King’s View Estates, LLC. The dam has been listed by the Association of State Dam Safety Officials in “poor condition” since 2004.
It was noted that the water level in the surrounding area had noticeably dropped, and nearby residents reported water from the dam encroaching on their property. “You know, the water level jumped up to about 18, 20 inches,” said Frank Casella, a Woolwich resident whose property borders Warrington Mill Pond. “Now we have the water approaching our property – over the normal level.”
The section of Mill Road closed is between Asbury Station Road and Tomlin Station Road. There have been no updates on when the road will re-open.
Approximately two years ago, Woolwich Township also lost a dam on Oliphant Mill Road due to severe road damage after a series of storms. That dam is also privately owned and the road is still closed.
A similar situation happened with the Hendrickson Mill dam in 2010, also on Mill Road.
A heavy rainstorm and an earthquake in 2010 caused to road to settle. Gloucester County officials made the decision to remove the dam. The private lake that was being held back by the bridge was drained and the homeowners were told they would be responsible for rebuilding a containment system for the water.
The county installed a pipe in the existing stream channel and the pond has since refilled. The rebuild of the road also straightened out sharp turns in the roadway over the bridge. These sharp turns also exist over the Warrington Mill dam.
The bridge crossing the Hendrickson Mill dam had been closed to traffic from 2010 to 2015, according to the county, due to funding issues.
With this pattern, Committeeman Michael Nocentino emphasized that it is in the township’s best interest to investigate other dams as well in attempt to “get ahead” of any possible damage, especially considering that an option presented by the DEP will likely be removing the dam entirely, thus eliminating a source of water and recreation from Woolwich.
“It’s sad because there is a lot of history in that area,” Casella said. “It’s a beautiful place, and if it eventually goes away, it will be a really sad thing.”
Also at the meeting, several announcements were made regarding various Woolwich events. These include a Family Bingo Night at the Woolwich Township Municipal Building on Oct. 7, the first annual Woolwich Township Police Community Day to be held on Oct. 8, and a Raas Garba celebration slated for Oct. 16. According to Councilwoman Cindy Minhas, further information about all of these events can be found on the Swedesboro-Woolwich Parks and Recreation Facebook.
The Swedesboro-Woolwich Environmental Commission will also be holding a clean up of Tranquility Trails and of the new disc golf course on Oct. 22. Nocentino asks that all “major disc-golf people in the area” refrain from using the course from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. that day to ensure that the clean up goes smoothly and to eliminate any fears of flying discs during the event.
By Berry Andres and Karen E. Viereck