City Councilman Brian O’Neill said he will meet Wednesday with representatives of three city agencies to discuss how to remove or breach a dam in Pennypack Park where five young people have died or been in danger over the last three years.
The dam, informally called the “boulevard dam,” creates a pool of water between 5 and 7 feet deep, and that swimming hole has long been a popular spot for young people to cool off on a summer day. Some use a footbridge upstream from the dam as a platform to dive into the pool and float down over the dam.
Brandon Boyle, 13, of Bell’s Corner, was the latest fatality at the site when he jumped into the rain-swollen creek on July 1. Police, firefighters and volunteers gathered along the banks and bridges to search for him. His body was found on July 4, and about 200 people held a vigil that night at the spot where he jumped in. A Facebook page, “Pray for Brandon,” had 8,618 likes as of Tuesday.
“I’d like to move quickly on this,” O’Neill said, noting that Brandon’s death has affected many people. “I want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
O’Neill said this first meeting would be with representatives of the city’s Water, Parks and Recreation and Public Property departments about the costs and logistics of either removing the 4-foot-high dam or cutting a gap in it.
The dam is located between Roosevelt Boulevard and Winchester Avenue at Woodward Street in Bustleton. The stone-and-masonry barrier once backed up water to create a water supply for a mill or factory along the creek, but it no longer serves any purpose. ••