MIDDLESEX TWP — The triumphant return of Glade Run Lake will be celebrated at a ceremony next week by those who missed the 52-acre lake and those who fought to have it reopened.
Glade Run Lake was drained in 2011 after its dam was declared faulty.
Fast forward to 9:04 p.m. on March 8, when several members of the Glade Run Lake Conservancy were thrilled to see water creep over the brand new dam for the first time since the draining.
Siggy Pehel, the conservancy president, said he was out of town when his ecstatic fellow lake lovers called to say water was trickling over the dam.
“I'm in Atlanta, and I'm jumping up and down,” Pehel recalled.
Pehel formed the conservancy soon after the closing of the lake and created a board of directors. The board members initially worked to secure memberships to the conservancy and financial support and grants from various groups and entities to help fund the reconstruction of the dam and spillway. The cost was estimated at more than $4 million.
They then worked to garner support from local legislators, who lobbied then-Gov. Tom Corbett to include funding to repair the dam in his 2014 budget.
Corbett, along with state Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-40th, whose constituency covered the lake property when the conservancy decided to try rallying local politicians, state Sen. Don White, R-41st, and state Sen. Scott Hutchinson, R-21st, traveled west from Harrisburg in October 2015 to announce that the state budget would kick in $2 million, the state Fish and Boat Commission would contribute $2 million and the conservancy would provide the rest of the funds to rebuild the dam and spillway and finally reopen the lake.
Thanks to the construction bids coming in under the estimates, the conservancy was able to upgrade the lake and its property during that time.
Those projects include: new channels in the lake bed to serve as fish habitat; an island in the lake for osprey, turtles and other creatures; a new, wider jetty near the boat launch that will allow those in a wheelchair to drop a line into the lake from the fishing deck; a new turnaround at the boat launch to provide easier boat access; and the construction of a bridge by an Eagle Scout that lengthens the property's walking trail.
“We're all very ecstatic that we've accomplished all the goals we set for ourselves in 2011 and developed along the way,” Pehel said.
Eric Levis, spokesman for the Fish and Boat Commission, said Friday that volunteers can help stock the lake with trout by meeting commission experts at the dam at noon Wednesday to help get the fish into the lake.
Levis said the statewide Mentored Youth Fishing Day will be held at the lake on Saturday. He said each young angler must be accompanied by an adult with a fishing license and trout stamp.
Also on Saturday, Pehel said the public is invited to an open house at 7 p.m. at the Middlesex Township Volunteer Fire Company on Browns Hill Road.
A presentation on the genesis of the conservancy and construction of the dam will be presented by the conservancy board members, and a 12-minute drone video taken by Middlesex resident Reid Joyce will show the dam from its draining to the completion of construction last fall.
Vulakovich also will speak at the event.
“It's our way of kicking off the reopening of the lake,” said Pehel. “I think this is an exciting time for the people in this area.”
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held from 11 a.m. to noon April 12 at the lake.
Speakers will include Corbett, the three state senators, the executive director of the fish and boat commission and Pehel. The public is invited to attend.
Pehel said he has formed a bond with the conservancy board members, who have supported him since August 2011, when the conservancy was formed.
“We are very gratified, we feel very accomplished, and we are very proud that we set out to do something, which was to get the lake back and enhance the park area, and we've achieved all our goals,” Pehel said. “The people on the board all have big smiles on their faces at meetings.”
Pehel said the conservancy will not fold its tent and disappear now that the plunk of a fishing line will again be heard at the lake.
He said more Eagle Scout projects are planned at the lake property, an old building will likely be razed near the boat launch, a small pavilion could be added near the fishing jetty, adjacent property could be purchased to enlarge the property, and bathrooms are being considered for the future.
He said additional Eagle Scout projects will provide fishing benches, a concrete picnic bench and an osprey pole and wildflowers on the island.
Levis praised Pehel and the conservancy board members and said he looks forward to the opening of the lake.
“It's an exciting time for us and we know it's an exciting time for residents,” Levis said. “We were very happy to work with Siggy and his group because we can't do these programs without local residents and local officials.”
Asked how he feels when reflecting on the conservancy's formation and hard work, and especially its success in reopening the lake, Pehel said, “It's one of the most rewarding things I've done in my life.”
More information on the lake is available at www.gladerunlakeconservancy.org.