Friday, June 26, 2009

High Street getting attention it needs

On Monday, June 22, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation started an $852,600 project to pave and upgrade High Street. The anticipated completion date is Oct. 2, barring any serious weather interruptions. Some preparation work has already started, with curbs being cut out at the Mount Joy Street intersection and being readied for handicapped access, and work on water, sewer and gas lines will begin shortly.

PennDOT's plan is to pave all of West High Street, from Masonic Drive, to the square. Borough Manager Pete Whipple said about 75 percent of the length of East High Street will be paved. He said PennDOT is going to evaluate all sections of the street to determine if they need to be milled down and paved from scratch, or if the current asphalt is in good enough condition simply to be paved over.

Because High Street is a state-owned road, this project is entirely under PennDOT's purview and responsibility. The agency bid the project (the winning bidder was Pennsy Supply from Harrisburg), and it is managing the project -- the borough has no oversight of it. While the borough and the Elizabethtown Area Water Authority will be doing some work on water and sewer lines, and UGI will work on gas lines, there are no local tax dollars paying directly for the project.

The borough is pleased that PennDOT is undertaking the project, particularly since West High Street is in dire need of paving. Whipple said the borough has been inquiring when PennDOT would pave West High Street for the better part of 10 years. East High Street was not part of the request.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

He's really Dr. Uninformed

This week, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), whom George Will called the Senate's Dr. No, released a list of federal stimulus projects that he believes are the most wasteful. For reasons that can only be blamed on shoddy research, he listed the Elizabethtown Train Station project.

His "report," a term that I will only use in its very loosest terms since it would flunk any English 101 course for quality research, screams: "Taxpayers Taken for a Ride: Nearly $10 Million to be Spent to Renovate a Century Old Train Station that Hasn’t Been Used in 30 Years."

If the good senator and his staff had bothered to read any of the news reports cited, he would have known that the $9.4 million Elizabethtown is receiving will pay to renovate and revamp not an old building but the platform used by more than 80,000 riders annually, paving the parking lot those riders use and making the station handicapped accessible. Yes, a portion of the money will go to renovate the existing building that has been empty and unused for 30 years -- but not even close to the entire amount.

Now, I am not naive enough to think Sen. Coburn isn't trying to score political points. If he wants to do that, fine -- he just needs to do his research, stop shooting from the hip and stop making 0ffensive comments.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Parks and Recreation

In Elizabethtown, we are a far cry from the buffoonery found on NBC show "Parks and Recreation," starring Amy Pohler, when it comes to our own places where residents relax, exercise and enjoy the outdoors.

In fact, Borough Council recently spent an evening touring the community park with four borough staff members to get a first-hand look at what all of us agree is a gem for the community. The park, which stretches from Chestnut Street (where you can watch softball from the outfield) to Cherry Alley near Christ Church United Church of Christ. In between are the Fun Fort playground, a basketball court used nearly 12 months of the year, pavilions, picnic tables, swings -- the whole gamut that a resident would expect.

Which is why Borough Council spent an evening wandering through the park. Expectations from residents are high, and our staff members walked us through some of the projects that are taking place and others that are on the list of things to be done.

Here are some the projects that are ongoing and others that are on the list as funding becomes available:

  • Memorial area: At South Mount Joy Street and Ken Lane, on the east side of the Fun Fort, the borough in recent years has started memorial area that is beginning to take shape. Stairs have been built from the intersection to the grassy area, along with several hardscape features and some flower beds. The intent is for community members to memorialize their loved ones by purchasing trees or other plants in this area. The borough has worked with a landscape designer who came up with a plan about what types of trees and shrubs to plant and where to plant them. All prices ranges are available, and the types of plant materials include Mount Fuji cherry trees, Zelkova Green Vase, Eastern Red Buds, azaleas, hollies and dogwoods. Residents who wish to plant something in memory of a loved one can call Roni Ryan at the borough office.

  • Area along Verdant Alley: The area along Verdant Alley off Spruce Street will see new restrooms and pathways that are ADA compliant and guiderails along the alley to protect the play area below. The borough is seeking grant funding for this project.

  • Resurface basketball court: The basketball court along Washington Street is perhaps the second heaviest used feature in the park, behind the Fun Fort. Residents are frequently playing pick-up games, sometimes well into the winter. With all of the use the court gets, it needs resurfacing. The borough has budgeted the work for 2009, but in the current economy and other pressing needs, the work may be deferred.

  • Water fountain on Ken Lane: The borough plans to install a water fountain in front of the restrooms on Ken Lane across from the memorial area.
While some of the projects seem mundane, such as new roofs on a storage facility and the former Boy Scout house along Verdant Alley, all the projects are relevant to maintaining a quality park system.