Rush Township residents will see more than $1 million in infrastructure and equipment upgrades, according to details revealed Wednesday at the municipal building in Hometown.

The good news for taxpayers is that no taxes or utility fees will be increased as a result of the improvements, say township supervisors.

"No taxes will go up," said Shawn Gilbert, chairman.

Another said the combined projects represent a phase of progress at an exciting and large scale.

"We're not standing still; we're moving forward," said Robert Leibensperger, vice chairman, as he, along with Gilbert and supervisor Jeaninne Motroni, met with two Schuylkill County commissioners and state officials to discuss the scope of the three major undertakings.

Hometown Safe Routes to Schools

The township has been awarded a monetary increase in a project aimed at creating a safe connection between Rush Elementary School and other areas in the village of Hometown.

The ambitious, federally-funded project was first announced May 2011, and at that point included $204,000 in funds secured through the Northeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Enhancement Funding Program.

However, that initiative has now been expanded to $356,000.

Specifically, the project will upgrade sidewalks and paths to connect Rush Elementary to Mahanoy Avenue (SR54).

The targeted area is Meadow Avenue, both sides, from Grove Street to Wyoming and Oak Lane.

The improvements are expected to include upgrades to existing sidewalks, installation of additional sidewalks, curbing, crosswalks, detectible warning systems, signage and shoulder widening and surface painting.

The project would connect the area of the school to business and residential areas of the township and improve safety, according to the project description.

DEP 902 Grant

The township also received a $52,201 Pa. Department of Environmental Protection grant to defray the cost to purchase a 703 Wood Maxx wood chipper machine and a Dinkmar leaf vacuum. The equipment will give the township added flexibility in performing those tasks and will, in the long run, reduce expenses, said officials.

"The more waste we remove, the more it reduces our landfill expenses," Leibensperger said.

CDBG Grant

Rush Township also will receive $500,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding for the Lincoln Drive Sanitary Sewer Line Extension project. The funding will form the basis of some $960,000 being spent to bring municipal sewage to a large residential area in northwest Hometown. The balance of the funding will be drawn from the sewer account, said the supervisors.

The large-scale project involves extending sewer lines from an area near Transwestern Polymers at Tidewood East Industrial Park and tying into new lines being put in place along the west side of Route 309. The project will necessitate a bore hole to be drilled and casing installed under Route 309.

When completed, the project, according to its official description, "will provide long term sewage disposal needs for existing residences north of the Carbon County Railroad. Concerns about malfunctioning on-lot systems, the use of well water and the location in a high quality, cold water fishery watershed fuel the need for this improvement."

The project overview provides an answer to that question by outlining the unique location and challenges associated with it."The area in question had been excluded from public sanitary sewer facilities due to location. As depicted on the project map, there are existing sanitary sewers to the east of SR309 and south of the Carbon County Railroad. Both of these locations service industrial and commercial areas of the township. Extension of sanitary sewer facilities to the proposed project area along Lincoln Drive requires either boring under SR309 or the Carbon County Railroad parcel. This constraint prevented planning for the long term sewage disposal needs of the project area. As a result, this residential area was isolated from the areas that received service."

In terms of existing housing, eight single-family residences are serviced by on-lot sewage disposal systems. Seven of the eight dwellings were constructed between 1930 and 1960 with one residence built in 1974. On-lot sewage disposal regulations were adopted in the early 1970s, therefore, seven of the eight homes contain pre-regulatory on-lot sewage disposal systems.

Three of the four commercial establishments in the area utilize on-lot holding tanks with the fourth serviced by an on-lot sewage disposal system of unknown location.

Historical repair information for the remaining systems is not available or has not been reported to the township.

The project is far reaching and significant, and will be beneficial in many ways, said a spokesman.

"This will open up the land for development," said Motroni, explaining that any additional residences or structures, for example, that might be built in that section of Hometown would increase the township's tax base.

Others taking part in the announcement were: Gary Hess and George Halcovage, commissioners; Gary Bender, county director of community development; Karen Parish county and municipal consultant from Mullin and Lonergan Associates, Camp Hill; Mary Beth Dougherty of Sen. David G. Argall's office, R-29; Bill McMullin of Arro Engineering, township engineer; and Berit Case and Colleen Connolly of the DEP.

Rush Township, north of Tamaqua, encompasses 24 square miles and has a population of 4,000 with 1,349 living in Hometown, according to the US Census.