O’Neill to meet with city agencies to seek action on dam

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. ••

You can reach at lswanson@bsmphilly.com.

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