Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Eclipse of Reason Crescent and the Corps Must Reach a Locks Deal

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Eclipse of Reason Crescent and the Corps Must Reach a Locks Deal

Article excerpt

Crescent Township, which got its name from being spun off from Moon Township long ago, is a small community that prides itself on its hometown feel. Its history owes much to its location on the Ohio River as the site of early boat building.

Now it finds itself at the center of a depressing dispute with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers involving the very river that was a reason for its founding. Both sides feel wronged -- and their problem is Western Pennsylvania's problem, so vital are the stakes.

Crescent Township is home to the Dashields Lock, which like many old locks and dams in this area, needs repairs to keep functioning.

The Corps had scraped up $3.1 million, no easy task in today's fiscal climate, to stabilize a lock wall so it won't collapse into the river. The project has already been delayed a year and the Corps says that if it is not done it will be left on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars to compensate the contractor.

But the Corps and Crescent can't agree on a plan to fix a rain- damaged township road that leads to the lock and Shouse Park (as it happens, named for a pioneer boat builder). The Corps is prepared to take over the road and repair it at a cost of at least $250,000, leaving Crescent obligated only to clear the road of snow in the winter.

It would seem a good deal for a 2.3-square-mile township with an annual budget of only $1.6 million. But the Corps wants permission to close the park for unspecified lengths of time and use it as a staging area during rehabilitation of the lock.

That is too much for township officials, who don't want to lose their park for months on end and who complain of being yanked around by the Corps' changing positions over months of negotiations. (As proof, they cite a memorandum of understanding between the parties last December that they say would have solved the problem). …

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