|Workers for the state conservation department say they want the largest shade tree on historic Ney Alley to go (Photo: Charlie Sahner)|
By Charlie Sahner
The Pennsylvania State body charged with protecting its natural resources and parks has been busy in New Hope this past week trying to convince residents that tearing down healthy trees, bulldozing field stone canal walls, and arbitrarily closing off roadways and sidewalks are needed activities in repairing the section of Delaware Canal that they originally helped destroy.
Among their seemingly disjointed, ill-planned efforts, workers for the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) have been asking residents and businesses bordering the historic canal this week if ripping out the largest shade tree on Ney Alley would be okay ("it would make it easier for the dump trucks") according to multiple sources who asked not to be identified. Some of the contractors for the DCNR have behaved in a rude and threatening manner, according to sources and the personal experience of this author. At least one high ranking Borough Hall official is fully aware of the tree situation, according to one merchant.
Another badly impacted group of residents appear to be those with homes in the Canal Street luxury town home community built by George Michael on the banks of the canal. According to one state worker who asked not to be identified in order to avoid retaliation, there is concern in various quarters about potential foundation damage to those structures due to heavy machinery usage and mudslides, especially to the home closest to the West Mechanic Street canal bridge.
|The entire wall to the right of the backhoe will be removed, says state worker. House on left may already have suffered foundation damage, speculate some (Photo: Charlie Sahner)|
More astounding. according to this worker, is the State's plan to remove the remaining western wall of the Canal (both cinder block and older field stone below) all the way from West Mechanic Street to the viaduct near Ferry Street. In lieu of a retaining wall, the ground west of the canal will be graded into a slope -- potentially bringing flowing canal water within a few feet of nearby back porches.
Meanwhile, workers for the DCNR seem to be opening and closing streets and sidewalks at will, without coordination, prior notice, or permission, harming new and old businesses alike on West Mechanic Street and forcing pedestrians into oncoming traffic during the busy weekend tourist days when construction activity is actually halted.
To be fair, many construction workers laboring on behalf of the DCNR are amazingly skilled and dedicated individuals. Others, particularly in leadership, planning and communication functions, appear to be unqualified, confused and incompetent, based on the continuing canal calamity.
Message to PA DCNR: get your act together or go back to Harrisburg. And don't even think you're gonna be able to touch that tree. Over and out.