3 D&L Trail gaps soon to be filled
Three gaps along the D&L Trail in Carbon County may soon be only a memory.
During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board voted to approve the Community Conservation Partnership Program grant application and resolution requesting $300,000 through the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for the Carbon County D&L Trail Connectivity Project.
The D&L Trail currently runs from Bristol to White Haven, but has three gaps that break up the 165-mile trek. Those gaps are located in Lehighton, East Penn Township and Jim Thorpe.
H. Scott Everett, D&L Trail manager, explained that the county is acting as the grant holder for the state funding.
He also outlined the projects for each gap.
In Jim Thorpe, the county would build a pedestrian bridge across the Lehigh River, near the Old Mauch Chunk Train Station. It would allow pedestrians to cross from the trail near the sewer plant over the river and into the heart of downtown Jim Thorpe.
The connection between Weissport to Lehighton would be located behind Dunkin' Donuts and Castle Grill. It would be ADA accessible.
The remaining portion is located along Route 895 in East Penn Township. Everett said that this portion would also be ADA accessible near Marvin Gardens and would include pedestrian crossing warning lights.
He thanked the board for applying for grant money for the project.
"We're always looking for ways to match funding and minimize the impact locally," he said, adding that the project will not cost any money because of negotiations made with the state when the turnpike bridges were replaced.
Part of the replacement project includes Walsh Construction developing 2.5 miles of the trail under the bridges. That portion of trail is expected to be completed this summer.
Everett noted that DCNR has agreed to use that 2.5-mile stretch as the local match for the grant.
Commissioner William O'Gurek commended D&L Trail officials for negotiating the local match.
"They had the foresight when they negotiated the easements for the turnpike bridge replacement project.
They negotiated Walsh Construction develop 2.5 miles of trail with materials they're using," he said. "That's a great thing."
Commissioner Wayne Nothstein, chairman, added that this grant will help complete the project, which has taken years.
"Finally the gaps in Carbon County will be closed," he said.
In other matters, the commissioners are looking into an underground propane tank that they believe is installed illegally.
The tank is located outside the district magistrate's office in Weatherly, which the county rents.
O'Gurek said the problem surfaced when the county advertised for bids for propane suppliers.
When the tanks were inspected, the county was notified that the tank in question was too close to the building and not in compliance with state regulations.
Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard said he plans to do more research on the matter but feels the county should take some action to rectify the problem.
Nothstein asked who the regulatory agency is who would determine if the propane tank is legal or not.
O'Gurek said it would be the state Labor and Industry.
He added that according to regulations, no tank is allowed to be installed within 10 feet of the building.
"I'm concerned about the county's exposure to paying to put gas into a tank that's installed illegally," O'Gurek said, noting that Gerhard expressed his concerns on Feb. 16, when the contract for propane services was awarded. "When we put this out to bid, our specifications in that packet said all installations must be within compliance with the National Fire Protection Association. So if we're holding someone to a standard and then allowing somebody to fill a tank that we know or have been told is installed illegally, shame on us.
"There have been tragedies across this country, some as recent as a few years ago in Lehighton," he added. "I think we ought to do something about it."
Gerhard said he is concerned because several suppliers have filled this tank in the past without questioning the location.
O'Gurek then suggested calling an investigator with Labor and Industry so they can answer the county's question.
Both Gerhard and Nothstein agreed.
Nothstein then asked who is responsible for the tank if it is found to be illegally installed, since the county is only renting the property.
Daniel Miscavige, county solicitor, said it would be the landlord's.
The county also listened to a proposal by Walt Bevilacqua, president/owner of WB Electric in Jim Thorpe.
Bevilacqua asked if the county could install a few electric vehicle charging stations in its county parking lot to accommodate the growing need with electric cars.
He would donate his time to install the solar-powered pedestals. The service would be free to drivers.
The board said they would look into the matter to see if the need is there.