Thursday, December 1, 2016

Dec 2, 2015 - the beginning of the end for Nestlé in Kunkletown, and the beginning of research of the Beemer Water Company

A year ago on December 2, 2015, this blogger set foot in Kunkletown, Eldred Township, for the first time in 19 years.  The purpose was to attend the Eldred Township Board of Supervisors meeting that evening.  While one senior Kunkletown resident asked subtle questions about deeded water rights of the township solicitor, as he had reportedly done in previous meetings, a scan of the packed meeting room revealed concern on the faces of many residents.  As some spoke, the tension was palpable.  A few furtively glanced in my direction as if to say "who is the guy in the corner sitting behind the pimp, and what's his story?"

Who is the joker?

Nestle had completed draw-down testing for a planned site in Kunkletown, and residents were petrified of the prospect of a water extraction operation.  This is was what I came for, and I was primed.  I had researched case law, and was eager to see a trap set and eventually sprung on the leeches who were hoping to take advantage of a miscarriage of municipal procedures, and drain Kunketown's groundwater supply.

One resident blurted out to Supervisor Gannon Pettit "hell, you're sleeping with the damned property owner!!!"   Ms. Gannon Pettit smirked and coyly replied "do you think that's why I got this job, to make this happen?"  The devil on my shoulder silently yelled "yes!"  Another resident seemed like a student who had missed her afternoon meds; she was irrational.  She couldn't restrain herself from yelling and flailing about in her seat, and stormed out halfway through the meeting. The constable adjusted himself in his seat.  Another resident was concerned that her critical kidney treatments, from an in-house system that uses water, could be affected.  I was in the right place, and please pass the popcorn.  With butter.

One colorful resident in attendance was visibly upset

I intently listened to the proceedings, and took mental notes.  Nestle water pimp Eric Andreas was seated right in front of me - the target was dead ahead and taking his own mental notes.  The hunter was being hunted.  Not wanting to underestimate my well-funded prey, I kept quiet until near the end of the discussion.  I raised my hand and spoke to a point of order - not wanting to raise too many eyebrows, but wanting to make it clear I was familiar with the subject so the spider would be concerned he may need to weave a larger web.  Sure enough, Mr. Andreas took the bait and introduced himself.  I informed him we had nothing to speak about.  Not very subtle, but the message was sent that I was playing at an intermediate level, not a beginner.  It turns out there were others in the room on December 2, 2015 who had also researched case law, and were imminently to file an appeal that would change Mr. Andreas' and Nestle's plans.  And in one month, a change of supervisors took place that unified the community and the administration.

Watching your backside... sometimes it isn't enough

By June, this matter was resolved.

Kunkletown K-O's multi-national whores in full frontal assault

Deeded water rights of neighbors to water on Gower property
The resident asking about deeded water rights was Terry Kleintop, who lived in a house next to the Gower property in the 1950's, and chipped in as a young man to maintain a water supply on the Chestnut Ridge that supplied at least six properties, including the residence of Mr. Kleintop and his parents.  Mr. Kleintop reported that there was a reservoir on the ridge, and a pipe system that brought water down, under the Buckwha, and to a distribution point on what is currently the Prutzman property.  Pinky Prutzman confirmed this, and said that this system was still in operation in the 1960's.  Mr. Kleintop reported that the reservoir had a plug like a cork that was the size of a basketball.  This would be removed annually and the reservoir drained and the walls cleaned.  Both Mr. Kleintop and Mr. Prutzman indicated that their deeds gave them the right to go on the Gower property and repair or reconstruct this system.  Mr. Andreas feigned ignorance of this detail, which is odd since rights to water was what this project was all about.  Due diligence and all that.

This blogger loves a good mystery, so he set about attempting to locate said reservoir, the pipes that it fed, and researching the deeds that might convey such rights.

Unnamed tributary on Gower property is actually Spruce Run
Easier to find than the reservoir was the tributary that Mr. Kleintop indicated ran down the gorge and the reservoir was located on.  Determining the name of said tributary was more difficult.  A map was located that showed the name to be "Spruce Run" - aptly named for the lush landscape in question.  See the bottom, beneath the millrace and pond, formed by Beemer Dam.
In the picture above, not shown is Beemer Dam, which created the pond and made possible diversion of water to the mill race for the grist mill - today the eyesore known as the old mill.

Without further ado - the Beemer Water Company
This blogger set about attempting to locate the reservoir that was the heart of the rumored water supply.  This was not an easy task.  Erosion has taken its toll in the area in question, with large trees scattered like toothpicks and tall banks washed away.  However, the deeds of neighbors in fact made reference to a reservoir on the Gower property, and pipes, Spruce Run and the Beemer Dam.

In 1926, Mr. Beemer owned the Gower property by virtue of the fact he was the Trustee in the bankruptcy of the Chestnut Ridge White Brick Company.  Beemer deeded rights to the owner of the current Prutzman (nee Christman) property, Francis Greenzweig.  Mr. Greenzweig then subdivided these water rights to five others.  The following diagram is an aerial view from 1938, with lot lines shown from the current county GIS, and lot owners from 1926.  There was a small reservoir on the Greenzweig property at the distribution point, possibly for feeding livestock.

Details of water supply system located on Gower property, on Spruce Run

Deeded rights to enter Gower property and repair water delivery components
An excerpt of the deed from James Beemer to Francis Greenzweig, which conveyed the initial rights to the Beemer Water Company, follows.  Those whom Mr. Greenzweig subdivided his water rights to have deeds that refer to this document to define their rights.  In this manner, the present day heirs/property owners of said parcels have a right to the water in Spruce Run, as Mr. Kleintop suggested during the board meetings in 2015.  This would have given them rights in the lawsuit that was filed in the Court of Common Pleas.  Nestle representative and water pimp Andreas claimed to have never been able to locate this language.  Maybe he didn't look.
Deeded rights to water on Gower property and entry to property to repair water supply system

Complete chain of title of five properties with current rights to water on Gower property

Remains of Beemer Water Company
There is little left of the reservoir that Terry Kleintop remembers.  He reported there was a low dividing wall in it, and that DEP personnel confirmed they found remains of such a structure on a site visit in 2015.  The outer walls were said to be about waist high, and maybe 20' wide by 35' long.  Tributaries entered from multiple angles at the rear.  This blogger is a novice, but located features that appear to be of the same structure - wall sections and 5" pipe.

Fortunately, all this water company research became moot when Nestle withdrew.  It should be mentioned that there are others who use water from the Gower property, and adjacent parcels - some deeded, some not, fed through pipes coming from the south side of the Buckwha.  What is sad is very few of these people had the balls to speak up or stand in solidarity against the ill-conceived Nestle project.  You can bet that if Nestle's operation resulted in their pipes going dry, or ruined the quality of their water, they would have been among the first to complain.