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Residents Meet with Fish and Boat Commission over Pond Drainage Outrage

FOREST CITY — Outrage over the draining of two ponds in Wayne County prompted the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to host a public meeting with resi...
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FOREST CITY -- Outrage over the draining of two ponds in Wayne County prompted the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to host a public meeting with residents.

That meeting was held Thursday night in Forest City before a packed house.

“Wayne County has been neglected and now we have many problem dams, please correct them!” yelled one speaker as the room erupted in applause.

It was a packed auditorium of some not so happy people at Forest City High School.

Most of the people live around the two ponds in question and were upset to hear just last week, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission plans to them drain them immediately.

“I would respectfully ask for a provision, a practice with the public. The people that have an interest in these bodies of water, have advance and sufficient notice when they're going to be drained down,” said Wayne County Commissioner Jonathan Fritz.

But the PFBC says the ponds must be drained in order to fix the dams there since the dams are 150 years old and in such bad condition, they pose an immediate threat to public safety. That's why there's a sense of urgency.

“There's too much risk involved for the people, the buildings and the infrastructure like roads and bridges that are downstream of these facilities,” said Michele Jacoby with the Fish and Boat Commission.

Repairing each dam will cost $6.6 million and the project is expected to end in December 2021, with the ponds being refilled.

The PFBC will use money from the motor boat oil tax to partly pay for the project and says the governor just OK'd giving capital funding if the state's budget is fiscally sound each year during the six-year project.

But with this year's budget months overdue, residents say that money can't be counted on.

“Mainly concerned for my parents, they moved up here with a retirement dream and if this takes 15 years they might not be around to see it come back and that hits the heart a little bit,” said Sean Parker.

The commission will try to salvage as many fish as it can, but says it has lifted all fishing restrictions at those two ponds and wants people to catch and keep as many fish as they can.