Anglers, others don't want Kingston dam to go
Since he was 4 years old, Mike Contillo has been fishing in Loyalhanna Creek at Kingston Dam.
The Monroeville native, 43, and his brother Pat, 45, with their childhood friend Brian Slone, 46, were there Wednesday afternoon to catch-and-release in the knee-deep water at the bottom of the dam in Unity.
Although Washington-based American Rivers touted better fishing and water quality if the dam were removed, the anglers disagreed.
“The fish won't spawn anymore when they take it out,” Slone of Monroeville said near the spillway. “There's more air happening right there than the whole rest of the stream.”
On Tuesday, the Latrobe Municipal Authority board authorized the nonprofit organization to work on a $60,000 study to explore the feasibility of removing the dam that was built in 1918.
The 8,000-customer authority owns the Kingston Dam, which is necessary as a backup water supply for 4 million gallons of water per day, but does not provide flood control along the creek.
The authority has estimated that $1.6 million would need to be invested to connect to another backup water source before the dam could be removed.
Kingston Dam is classified as a C-4 structure by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which means it is the smallest size dam and the least hazardous, said John Poister, DEP spokesman.
The dam was inspected last year as it is every five years, and was found to have no problems, Poister said.
As bass minnows swirled in the water near their feet, the men said they fished at Westinghouse Dam in Trafford before it was removed a few years ago, but “it's pretty much unfishable” now, Mike Contillo said.
Lisa Hollingsworth-Segedy, associate director for river restoration with the Pittsburgh office of American Rivers, touted better water quality, lower water temperature, increased fish population and increased recreation as benefits to the dam's removal.
She could not be reached on Wednesday for further comment.
Just a few hundred yards away from the dam, Jim Lender, assistant manager at Kingston Supply Co., said the dam is helpful when giving people directions to the business and surrounding area.
“I'd hate to see it go,” Lender said. “It's been there for so long. I would call it a landmark.”
Tom Robinson, 43, has lived just downstream from the dam for 21 years along Route 30 with his wife and two children.
“I have a picture of it in my house from 1918,” he said. “I like to see historic preservation, it's what I'm after.”
He said he was interested to see if any additions to Loyalhanna Creek would be needed to buffer faster-moving water without the dam.
“(It's) actually creating a barrier,” Robinson said. “It's slowing the water down before it gets to us.”
Neighbors said they don't usually have to worry about flooding, especially Edward Ogrodny, 61, who lives on a hill just above the Route 217 bridge.
“I think it would be a good idea for boaters to have more of a throughway to enjoy their sport,” he said.
Swimmers and sunbathers have visited the dam for decades to take a dip in the pool the structure creates, although that is officially prohibited.
Ogrodny said he has seen a decline in the number of swimmers in the 14 years he's lived there and a safer alternative without the dam could be marketed for more tourism in the Laurel Highlands.
“There are so few people that swim there that it's not worth taking away from other people who can utilize the waterway,” he said.
Mike Contillo said the summer days spent there are evident by the many markings and grafitti left on the concrete.
“For years it read, ‘Welfare Beach.' It's pretty funny,” he said. “It's been enjoyed by many people for many years.”
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Motorcyclist injured in Sewickley Township
- Red Onion reunion possibly the last for Hempfield coal mining village
- Heroin suspect out of Westmoreland County jail on $100K bond
- Judge denies former New Alexandria tree trimmer another chance
- Ligonier Valley YMCA project in public phase
- Girl, 10, forced to strip in Sewickley Township home invasion
- Monessen home invasion ‘ringleader’ denied leniency
- Derry man gets 19-year prison sentence for recording sex assaults of girl
- Kecksburg celebrates its UFO history with annual festival
- Unity zoning hearing board OKs addition to Adelphoi home
- Latrobe police to host National Night Out