Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Craft brewery set to open near train station

NOTE: Edited on March 21 to correct information about the license information Brubaker needs.

We hear a common refrain about businesses in Elizabethtown that it is home to an abundance of pizza shops and hair salons.

Soon, it will be home to its own craft brewery.

Local hopheads, you read that right.

E-town resident Mike Brubaker will open Moo-Duck Brewery this fall, pending approvals for a federal brewery number and brewery and brewpub license from the state. It will be located at 79 S. Wilson Ave., right across from the Elizabethtown Train Station.

To say that I am excited is an understatement. First, I am a fan of craft beer and trying different kinds of brews.

Second, and more important, new businesses in the area of the train station are a positive sign of economic development. And that means the vision that Borough Council had 10 years ago for that side of town is becoming a reality. 

"The train station location offered us a building that had the best balance between being functional for brewing and front of house for tasting," Brubaker told me in an email. "Plus we felt that it was in the up and coming part of town and we would have a built in customer base with the train commuters."

Brubaker grew up  in Ephrata and was a naturalist and director of education for a nonprofit environmental center in the Poconos where he met his wife, Kristen. In 2007, they moved back to Lancaster County to be closer to my family and bought a home in E-town. He's been brewing his own beer for a little over five years. 

"It started out as a fun hobby, but quickly grew into more," he told me in an email. "I got hooked on the process and it became a creative outlet that I could share with others."

The process of opening the brewery began about a year ago in looking for a possible location after doing research and business planning "way before that." He and his wife, who on the brewery website is described as "bartending and food safety coordinator," knew from the start they wanted the business to be located in E-town. 

"We felt there was a need we could fill here and felt E-town was ready for such a business," he said. "We want to be a place the community can be proud of and plan on partnering with other local businesses."

Moo-Duck will have a tasting room with six beers on tap to start, with two more available if the need arises. Brubaker said there also will be "charity beer" on on tap at all times, with 50 cents from each beer served donated to a local non-profit.

As for the beer itself, the website says Moo-Duck "handcrafts our beer in small batches, creating the freshest beer possible. We use the highest quality ingredients and buy locally whenever possible." From the list of beers, you can tell there's a creativity with HONEY! Basil Blonde, a "nice, light, refreshing blonde ale ... further enhanced by the addition of honey and fresh basil leaves." Mistopheles Chocolate Stout starts "with a nice roasted, dark caramel, and dark chocolate stout base and then further enhance the chocolate flavor by aging the beer over cocoa nibs."

By the way, the Mistopholes won the best beverage award at the recent Taste of Western Lancaster County.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Elizabethtown says, "Walk this way!"

A few months ago, some borough staff members saw a presentation of a walkability audit of another Lancaster County community. Upon asking about it, they soon had an offer to do a walkability audit here in Elizabethtown. It's scheduled for 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Friday, March 28. Participants -- and anyone in the community is invited to participate -- are meeting in the Free Parking Lot on Cherry Alley behind Groff's Meats.

An email invitation to attend the walk says the audit will focus on assessing how friendly parts of Elizabethtown are for physical activity and healthy living with the ultimate goal of providing education, inspiration and practical planning tools.

I wanted to find out a little more about what that means and what a walkability audit is. So I got in touch with Ben Craddock, an engineer with C.S. Davidson, who will be doing the audit.

First things first, Ben said: "It would be great to get some residents to partcipate…sometimes they’ll pick up on things that we 'experts' overlook." I read that to mean, "If you have the time and interest, tag along on this and let your voice be heard."

With that, let's find out more about the audit.

Jeff McCloud: What is a walkablity audit? 
Ben Craddock: The Federal Highway Administration says that a walkability audit is “an evaluation of the walking environment, used to identify concerns for pedestrians related to safety, access, comfort, and convenience.” That might sound like a lot but really?...we just go for a walk and ask ourselves a few simple questions. Questions like: “did we have room to walk?” or “was it easy to cross streets?” Based on our answers to those questions, we then rate the specific route that we walked in order to get an answer to the big question of “how walkable is our community?”

Why do a walkability audit?
Even though we’re just sampling a small portion of the community, participating in a walk audit gives the participants first-hand knowledge of what features make a community walkable or not. Many of us think we have a decent idea of how walkable our community is…until we actually try to walk somewhere. Or we try to get there with four kids in tow. Or we try to do it with piles of snow in our way. A walk audit gives us a much different experience than you would get from driving on the exact same streets every day.

What will we in Elizabethtown get from the audit?
First, it will raise awareness of just how important walkability is to your residents and the community. Some folks will already be very aware, but sharing the experience with your neighbors helps to get people on the same page. It can actually be a fun community building event. Second, you’ll get a report with a summary of the ratings and some recommendations for improving the walkability of that route. Recommendations often will range from short term easy fixes to long range planning solutions. Hopefully the recommendations generate ideas for improving other walking routes within the Borough as well. We’ll also try to identify some resources for the Borough for funding improvements and for providing ongoing education, assistance, and support.

What would you say to someone who says, "A walkability audit? Why? I can walk anywhere in town just fine."
If someone asked me that question, I’d say, “Well then come on out and share your insights with those who might not walk as much as you! You might be just the expert that we need to help us understand how important walkability is to you and your community.” It is quite possible that the audit will show that your community is very walkable and that you just need to keep up the great work. It’s sometimes nice to hear that you’re doing a great job and have reason to celebrate.

Will the audit look at existing infrastructure or things like the planned walking pathways
We’ll be nailing down the exact walking route (borough staff) soon (this week, I think.). We typically look at existing infrastructure since we’re trying to see how walkable the community is in its current state. But the Elizabethtown's future plans will certainly factor into the type of recommendations we make. For example, we probably wouldn’t recommend major upgrades to a poor walking route if we know that a new path will connect people to the same destinations as that poor route.

As a frequent runner, I am curious to see the results of the audit. Based on my experiences, I'd offer this feedback: There are a few sidewalks that are barely wide enough for two people. Some are on busy streets, and find myself forced into the street to pass someone.

If you can participate in the audit, please contact the borough office at 717-367-1700.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Six reasons why runners need to come to Elizabethtown

In the past two years, I have used the streets, sidewalks, paths and roads in and around Elizabethtown as my training grounds for three half marathons. I have run often enough to establish short routes of 4 miles that get me home in about 30 minutes and long runs of 12 miles that take me from one end of Elizabethtown to another (literally from Darrenkamps to the Masonic Village Farmers Market).

When 500 people show up for a race in the dead of winter, you know there's a community of runners. With that in mind, here are six reasons why you should run in Elizabethtown:
  • Elizabethtown's walking and biking paths -- The borough has been working on walking and biking paths in town for a number of years. This winter, construction started on connecting a path from the community center on Poplar Street with a new path that will end at the Elizabethtown Train Station. The borough has also received grants to build a path on the other side of Market Street that will use existing alleys and go through Community Park and connect to the Elizabethtown Area School District property. Soon, you'll be able to run all the way through town on a dedicated pedestrian path and encounter little to no traffic.
  • Masonic Villages -- I have run countless miles at Masonic Villages and am grateful for it. From my house, it's about a mile to the apartment buildings on Sycamore Drive. Once I get there, I can head in a number of directions on walking paths or on roads that don't have that much traffic. As any runner will tell you, that is a blessing.
  • Hills -- As a cross country runner in high school, my coach told us to "attack the hills." Ever since then, I've never shied away from the challenge of a steep incline. Here in Elizabethtown, there are many, many challenges: Campus Road from College Avenue to Groff Avenue, Buckingham Boulevard, my own 5 Miles of Hills route and more. If you train in Elizabethtown, you will fear no hills in a race.
  • Great local races -- I've been running in the Frozen Foot Race Series, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Here's a list of other races in no particular order (these are the ones I know about in the Elizabethtown area; I did not include any that are outside of the school district):
    • Run for Peace, held every September and sponsored by the Elizabethtown Brethren Church.
    • Elizabethtown Color Classic -- will be held Sunday, April 6, on and around the campus of Elizabethtown College. This is a first-time color run the college's Class of 2016 is sponsoring to support the Arc of Lancaster County. As a side note, the borough's staff held up this student-run event as an example of planning and organization for submitting a special events application with all requirements months ahead of the event.
    • Cornerstone Ministries held an inaugural 5K last fall at Masonic Villages.
    • Twilight Trot, a 10K in August on the Masonic Villages grounds sponsored by the Greater Elizabethtown Recreation and Community Services.
    • An inaugural Mother's Day Run 5K this year, sponsored by the Elizabethtown Rotary Club.
  • Conewago Rail Trail -- Technically, this isn't in the borough, but it's part of the community. I had ridden my bike on it, but until last fall had never run there. It's nice to have a flat, straight path with no vehicle traffic, except for crossing Route 743 and some other roads. And that's not to mention the beautiful south central Pennsylvania farmland and scenery.
  • Elizabethtown College -- Like Masonic Village, the college provides a great space for running without traffic. I realized last fall that I could run across campus two or three times and get a 5-mile run in without ever being more than 1 mile away from home. And if I want to do speedwork on the track, it's a perfect warm up distance of six-tenths of a mile from home.
What did I miss? What reasons do you have for running in Elizabethtown?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

E-town man, a former air traffic controller, recounts events of 9/11

Flight path of Flight 93 (Photo courtesey of Wikipedia)
Like most of us, the events of Sept. 11, 2001, are seared into my memory. Even after 12 years, the emotions are raw as I remember the horror of that day.

You might ask, since this is a blog that is chronicling Elizabethtown, what does this have to do with the borough and its business?

It turns out that Mal Fuller, who lives near Bear Creek School in Mount Joy Township, was the watch supervisor of the Pittsburgh International Airport air traffic facilities on 9/11. I met Mal the other year at a summer picnic, and he told me briefly about that day when, shortly after the Pentagon was attacked, the radar in Pittsburgh showed Flight 93 headed directly for the airport. As the supervisor, he evacuated the control tower and radar room.

At 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 25, Mal will tell his story at Gibble Auditorium in Esbenshade Hall on the campus of Elizabethtown College. He will review the events of 9/11/01 as seen through the eyes of an air traffic watch supervisor who helped shut down the nation's airspace and who dealt with United 93 prior to its crash near Shanksville, Somerset County. 

I didn't hear Mal's entire story at that picnic, but like everything with 9/11, his story is compelling, and I hope to make it to his talk at the college.

For more background information, check out his appearance on "Conversations," a program produced at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Borough wins planning award for parking lot design

The Lancaster County Planning Commission awarded Elizabethtown's new long-term parking lot at the Amtrak Train Station with one of its Envision Lancaster County Leadership Awards on Feb. 25.

The lot, located at the end of Wilson Avenue, received an Achievement Award and was cited for a compact
design combined with park-like open space, porous asphalt to let stormwater to seep through and
the use of high-efficiency LED lighting. Working with the borough on the design of the lot were C.S. Davidson, Horst Excavating, Hanover Engineering Associates Inc. and Derck and Edson Associates.

The Envision Leadership Awards program recognizes the actions of municipalities, developers, consultants and community groups that embrace smart growth concepts and highlights the advantages of good planning. The county planning commission's website says the program "is intended to raise design and planning awareness in our community, while encouraging the support of planning activities and projects that foster smart growth. By recognizing the actions of municipalities, developers, consultants and/or others who embrace smart growth concepts, this awards program highlights the advantages of good planning."

I have to give credit to the borough's staff, all of whom had the vision and worked hard to make the parking lot a reality. It's great to have that work recognized on a professional level, and I am proud that Elizabethtown has a committed staff that is implementing a plan that will stimulate economic development for the borough and make it an even better place to live.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A winter to remember, and another snow emergency

It's been a winter to remember, hasn't it? As best I can remember, it's been 20 years since we've had snow on the ground for so long and temperatures so bitter cold.

With yet another winter storm bearing down on Central Pennsylvania, Elizabethtown has again declared a snow emergency:

Based on the extended forecast, Elizabethtown Borough has declared a snow emergency 
effective at 3 pm. on Sunday, March 2. 

ln order to facilitate the movement of traffic and to combat the hazards of snow and ice on the 
snow emergency routes, Elizabethtown Borough has declared a snow emergency. 

During a snow emergency the following applies: 

  1. Parking is prohibited on a snow emergency route
  2. The Elizabethtown Borough Police Department is hereby authorized to remove any vehicle parked along the snow emergency route and to transport the same to an impound facility designated by the Borough at the Vehicle owner’s expense.
  3. Penalties apply for violations. 

The following are designated as snow emergency routes:
  • College Avenue * between Market Street and Spruce Street
  • High Street- entire length
  • Market Street- entire length
  • Spruce Street- between College Avenue and Willow Street
  • Willow Street- between Spruce Street and Market Street
The borough also noted on its Facebook page that, "because of the potential for heavy accumulations, it is possible that we will need to plow several times. If possible, wait to shovel the last 6 feet of your driveway until we have completed curb to curb plowing on your street. This will help prevent our plows from pushing snow back into your driveway."

"Please keep in mind that Borough ordinance requires that snow and ice be removed from sidewalks within 12 hours after the end of any fall of snow, sleet, or freezing rain.

"For more information regarding a snow emergency, visit the Borough’s website. Thank you for your cooperation."