Status of Oliphant Mill Road Dam Discussed

WOOLWICH TWP. – Throughout the first public session of the Woolwich Township Committee meeting on Jan. 17, the committee answered several residents’ questions regarding the rebuilding progress of the dam on Oliphant Mill Road.

Oliphant Mill Road has been closed for approximately two years after a series of storms and severe road damage led to a compromise in the dam’s safety.

“Ideally, [Oliphant Mill Road is repaired] as soon as possible,” Woolwich Township solicitor Marla Gaglione said. “We still need confirmation on the numbers from the engineer for the three parties.”

In order to repair the dam, which is privately owned by James Hargrave, an agreement must be made between the property owner, the township and the county. Gaglione noted that while fixing the dam is a priority for the township, the process required to reach an agreement between a private owner and two bureaucratic entities is rarely reached swiftly.

“It’s not a project that we have forgotten about. We’re working on it, we’re working with the state on it, we’re working with all parties,” Gaglione said. “Unfortunately, the state doesn’t move as quickly as we would like them to.”

The dam on Oliphant Mill Road is one of many dams within Woolwich Township that have been damaged in the last several years. This includes the Warrington Mill dam on Mill Road, which has been closed since September 2022, and the Hendrickson Mill dam which led to its crossing being closed from 2010 to 2015.

“We don’t want to see another lake go away in the township. We’ve already lost two,” said Committeeman Vernon Marino. “So because it involves a dam, DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) and dam safety, they have to approve every step along the way because it is an environmentally sensitive area.”

Earlier in the new year, the township committee took a trip to see the local recycling center for Woolwich Township. There, the committee toured the facility to understand how the township’s recycling is processed, as well as what items are inevitably thrown away due to violating the recycling rules of the plant.

Frederick noted the staggering amount of plastic bags found within the township’s recycling and the threat that non-recyclables pose to both the process and the facility’s employees.

“There’s definitely going to be a large campaign that the environmental commission will undertake because there is clearly a lot of work that needs to be done to advertise what you can submit, what you can’t submit — even down to the water caps on the top of your water bottle,” Frederick said. “So, it was very eye-opening and alarming and disturbing all at the same time.”

The committee approved several resolutions throughout their meeting, such as authorizing a petty cash fund for the Park and Recreation Department. Additionally, the township accepted the donation of a 2017 Ford Explorer from Spirit Chrysler to the Woolwich Township Police Department.

By Berry Andres

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