By Nancy Johnson
The Penn Township board of supervisors addressed a wide variety of topics at their April 2 meeting, but two topics that have frequently been a part of the board's agenda -- the Sunnyside Road Bridge and the township's sewer system -- are about to have excellent outcomes.
Board chairman Curtis Mason announced that the township has received $816,217.65 in reimbursements from the state for the Sunnyside Road Bridge replacement. “We are supposed to get another $100,000. If we do, that will bring the township’s cost down to approximately $250,000,” he said.
The sale of the wastewater treatment system, which was necessary for growth in the township but had become a big financial liability, was also recently finalized, netting the township $3,702,751.
Several residents of the Villages of Penn Ridge were in attendance regarding property damage that was sustained in their community during snowplowing. Steve Crumrine, a spokesman for the group, said that the damage was extensive because a loader was used. Mason agreed that a loader should not have been used unless it was necessary.
Gary Clanton, who is contracted by the township to plow snow, said he thought it was necessary to use the loader to keep the road open for emergency vehicles. He agreed to fix all the damage.
Crumrine then proposed an idea on a related topic. “We [Villages of Penn Ridge homeowners] spent about $15,000 this winter removing snow from driveways and sidewalks and we are looking to see what we can do differently to mitigate costs,” he said.
He explained that a lot of extra money was spent to have the contractor come back out a second time to plow when driveways that had been cleared once were plowed in again when the township’s contractor plowed the road. “We want to request that you [Penn Township] pay your hourly plowing rate to our contractor and let him plow our roads,” Crumrine suggested.
“We’ve talked about a similar thing in the past and I personally don’t see how it could work,” said Mason.
Supervisor Victor Mantegna said the idea would have to be discussed thoroughly with the township’s roadmaster and plowing contractor, and asked Crumrine to submit the request in writing.
Supervisor Bill Finnen expressed his concern about liability. “Remember, we are responsible for the road. If something goes wrong, it’s on us," he said.
"The only legal way to do it would be to subcontract it through Gary,” said supervisor Ken Bryson. Crumrine said they would follow up with a letter, adding, “Our concern mainly is to coordinate the effort so we can save some money.”
Also on the subject of township roads, roadmaster Skip Elvin reported that he had been in touch with Long’s Asphalt in regard to pothole repair.
“Even with this terrible winter, it’s really not bad," he said. "That’s because we have always kept up with them.” He listed Valley and Briar roads as being slated for repaving this spring or summer.
With snowplowing finally finished for the year, the township is planning for mowing season. Seven bids were received for their ground mowing and lawn care contract, which runs from April 15 through Nov. 30. The bids varied dramatically, from a high of $24,182 to the accepted lowest responsible bid of $6,360 by Deerfield Mowing. After confirming that Deerfield Mowing had done work for the township previously, Mason said, “The bidding process is a bit of a pain, but it works. It used to cost us $20,000 before we put the mowing out to bid.”
The board also voted to sign a contract with West Grove Ambulance for $90,000, substantially more than the approximately $50,000 they paid the previous year. West Grove Ambulance has been struggling with funding issues and had formed a committee to explore options for funding that would be fair to all the municipalities they serve.
The $90,000 figure is based primarily on the number of ambulance calls in Penn Township. Mason said that since Penn has a number of age-restricted communities and more older residents, they would utilize the ambulance more often. He did point out that, while Penn Township is the site of low-cost senior housing at Luther House, its residents formerly lived in many neighboring municipalities.
“We totally support the ambulance and fire company, but we have some fairness issues,” Mason said. “We’re trying to be fair to our taxpayers, too.”