Private York County community fights to find solution to pay for lake repairs
Residents and private community leaders in the Township of Fairview share a common goal: to save the lake. But their opinions differ on how to proceed.
YORK COUNTY, Pa. — A cabin on Silver Lake in Fairview Township near Lewisberry has been owned by the family of Scott and Kathleen Webb since the 1930s.
“It’s part of the fabric of our social life,” Kathleen Webb said. “We have meetings here with extended family all the time because they’ve been doing that their whole lives too.”
Now they and other residents fear the lake is in danger.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection notified the Silver Lake Community Association in 2013 that the lake’s earth dam was deficient and in need of rehabilitation and improvements.
According to the DEP, the reservoir created by the dam “has very little freeboard above the normal operating level of the reservoir.”
The department says the dam “also lacks a spillway system capable of safely passing the required design storm flows over 100 years, and has been overrun in past storms, as was the case with the dam. ‘Hurricane Ida last year’.
If the dam is not repaired quickly, residents say the DEP will order it to be drained.
“It is a place that has been built over families and generations and in addition to being special in this regard, wildlife and wildlife preservation are also important,” said resident Elysa Boffo.
The DEP also requires that the reservoir level remain partially lowered as a risk reduction measure until the dam is properly rehabilitated.
As it is a private lake, it is up to the Silver Lake Community Association to pay for the repairs, which are estimated to cost six figures.
The residents and the Board of Directors of the Association have the same objective: to save the lake.
The problem is that the two sides don’t agree on how to do it.
“Our approach was to bring together a number of homeowners who could afford to do interest-free loans,” Scott Webb said.
Webb says that while the owners would still have to pay the money back, it would be a smaller lump sum in the long run.
Board members tell FOX43 they haven’t rejected that proposal, but they’re just not sure it’s the best way forward.
“It’s very good that they want to give us a loan but we don’t even know how much we need so as a council how can we go to our residents and say ‘These people are going to give us money’ money and we have to pay at the time,” said Scotty Roberge, vice president of the Silver Lake Community Association.
The community of Silver Lake is made up of families with diverse incomes.
Residents are worried if the council doesn’t accept interest-free loans they will decide on another form of payment – which will end up costing landlords more.
“Hospital bills, property taxes, this, that, I won’t be able to do it anymore,” resident Brenda Himes said. “I can’t make their payments.”
Although the lake may end up being saved, it is the community they most fear losing.
“Three people have already sold their homes because of this, and there will be many more, including myself, which is a shame,” Himes said.
“We’ll lose friends we’ve had for years if we don’t do it the right way,” Webb added.
Residents of the Silver Lake community have scheduled an unofficial meeting for May 7 to discuss the matter.
Roberge said that this is not an Association sanctioned meeting and that Board members will not be attending.
The council has set a meeting for June 4 at 10 a.m. at Lewisberry Borough Park.
Roberge says residents can attend this meeting.
To learn more about the efforts to save Silver Lake, you can visit the official SLCA website and the “Save Silver Lake” website.
RELATED: Fate of York County Lake Depends on Costly Dam Repairs
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