Thursday, October 29, 2009

Public can comment on E-town area's regional comprehensive plan tonight

Elected officials from Elizabethtown and Conoy, Mount Joy and West Donegal townships will meet at 7:30 tonight receive public input and comment into a regional comprehensive plan. The meeting will take place in the Large Group Instruction room at the Elizabethtown Area High School.

Officials from all four municipalities have been meeting for nearly three years to develop the comprehensive plan. As the name implies, the plan takes a comprehensive look at all aspects of the greater Elizabethtown community, including transportation needs, where commercial and residential development should occur and recreation needs such as parks. Representatives from the local municipalities have been working with Lancaster County Planning Commission to ensure that the local plan meets the goals of the county's comprehensive plan.

While the plan is not a binding document, township supervisors and Borough Council will approve the plan by the end of the year. The intent is for the comprehensive plan to be a guide for elected officials and the administrative staffs in each municipality over the next 10 years.

Prior to the elected boards voting, each municipality's planning commission also will review the plan and vote either to recommend or not recommend that supervisors or Borough Council approve the plan. The Elizabethtown Planning Commission recommended approval at its meeting this month.

Gaining input from members of the public is a critical component because the the plan will help guide and influence decisions that will have an impact on residents for many years. If you can't attend tonight's meeting, I urge you to contact your councilman or supervisor to let your voice be heard.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Track outages will begin at train station next week

Work at the Elizabethtown Train Station will cause track outages beginning Tuesday, Oct. 27. This will result in the closure of both the eastbound and westbound platforms -- one at a time -- until approximately Nov. 20.

The installation of pilings will result in the following schedule:
  • From Oct. 27 to Nov. 6, the north side (Wilson Avenue side) platform will be  out of service.

  • The contractor will move to the south side (Masonic Drive side) platform from Nov. 9 to  Nov. 20.
  • No track outages will be permitted from Nov. 22 to Nov. 29.
Signage will be prominently placed to alert riders which platform they are to access to meet their regularly scheduled train.

The pilings are part of sheeting and shoring work, which will help secure the train tracks as construction crews prepare for the construction of the new platforms. Amtrak is allowing the work to be done between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day. The Elizabethtown Borough and Lobar Inc., the contractor, are pleased that Amtrak is allowing for the work to be done during the day, which will result in a shorter time period for this portion of the phase one construction work.

Installing the sheeting and shoring during the day will also lead to less evening disruption for residents as the work involved is quite loud. Amtrak personnel will divert trains outside of Elizabethtown to one track or the other for this work to commence.

Train riders are reminded to that they will be able to access all trains as scheduled. They simply need to follow the signs to the proper platform.

The work is weather dependent and this schedule may be adjusted if it rains. The borough will notify riders if there is a significant change to the schedule detailed above -- and the borough continues to appreciate everyone's patience and support during this project.

Monday, October 5, 2009

New coffee shop to hold grand opening Friday

A new coffee shop called Folklore Coffee & Company is slated to hold a "historic grand opening" from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday. The shop is located at 5 Center Square, where the former Moose's 5&10 and the General Store were located. Another coffee shop operated there about seven years ago.

Folklore's owners are promoting the grand opening via a Facebook event page.

This is very good news for downtown Elizabethtown, which by many accounts has been struggling in recent years. Mayor Robert Brain indicated recently that several new businesses were planning to open, and Folklore could be the thing to give the downtown a jump start, just like a breakfast blend in the morning.

As a coffee lover, a resident of this community and a member of Borough Council, I really want to see Folklore establish itself and become an anchor for downtown business.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Work on train station well underway

Work at the Elizabethtown Train Station has started, including a fair amount of work inside the old building itself. Anyone who has visited the train station recently can tell work is happening. A chain link fence surrounds the area immediately around the old building, and signs on the fence direct pedestrians to a path to the rear of the fence from the back of the parking lot.

At Borough Council's workshop meeting Oct. 1, Borough Manager Pete Whipple reported that crews from Lobar Construction are working on some hazardous materials abatement inside the building -- all of which the borough knew about prior to the project. The work includes removing some old transformers and asbestos that was in caulking.

Whipple also told council that sheeting and shoring work, which is some of the most critical of the project because it will keep the train tracks in place and secure, will be done during the daytime. The work involves driving the materials into the ground with a large hammer, which creates a very loud banging. Lobar submitted a proposal to Amtrak to do the work during the day, and Amtrak approved the plan. Amtrak crews will reroute trains after Lobar meets certain advanced notification requirements.

Whipple said that work alone would take eight weeks.

"We are extremely appreciative that Amtrak has taken a favorable view of the submittal," Whipple said, adding that it is "phenomenally good news for the borough." That's not hyperbole, because the work could have been done at night. And with two apartment buildings and Masonic Village all within a stone's throw of the train station, such work done at night would have been disruptive to an entire section of the community.