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Hydrology reports questioned regarding park at Bear Creek

  • JUDY DOLGOS-KRAMER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Penn Forest Township Planning Commission Chairman Allen Heydt presents a plague to Herbert L. Green for his 29 years of service to the planning commission.
    JUDY DOLGOS-KRAMER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Penn Forest Township Planning Commission Chairman Allen Heydt presents a plague to Herbert L. Green for his 29 years of service to the planning commission.
Published July 02. 2013 05:03PM

Penn Forest Township supervisors learned Monday evening that the hydrology report provided by Hanover Engineering for the new township park may not be accurate.

"There are significant fundamental engineering mistakes. These mistakes make the design unacceptable for construction," claimed Bruce Haige, PE of Haige Engineering.

Haige was hired by Bear Creek Lake Association to review the plans for the park, which is being constructed on Route 903 directly across from Bear Creek Lake.

"We are not looking to interfere with the plans for the park or to delay it, but we wanted the opportunity to review the plans," explained Jack McGeehan, president of the association.

"Do not proceed with that design; you are buying yourself a maintenance nightmare and a ton of money," said Haige. "There are 17 specific cases where the current design does not meet your SALDO."

Haige provided a 39-page report to the board outlining the problems he identified with the existing hydrology report.

"The report has been given to our solicitor and all relevant parties, including the township engineering firm so that the issues can be addressed," said Christine Fazio, chairwoman of the board of supervisors.

"We are just layman here and we rely on the experts," said Supervisor Alan Katz. "Hanover notified us this morning that they could not be present this evening, but they gave us three dates when they would be available to meet."

Representatives of Barry Isset and Associates (BIA) were on hand to discuss the review they were requested to perform related to the park construction project and the status of the grants. According to BIA's initial report, there are 39 items which need to be put in place so that the various construction elements can be placed for bid.

In addition, they too had some questions relevant to some of the storm water runoff plans. Greg Pavlick, the BIA representative, was quick to point out that they had not been retained to perform a technical review of the Hanover design.

The initial review of the plans for the park, along with a review of all of the grant documents and the contracts which have already been issued, revealed a deficit of approximately $1 million to complete Phase I.

Katz made a motion to enter into the second phase of the contract with BIA, in which BIA would become project manager on the park construction and begin to put the bid packages together for the project.

"Having the actual bids will allow us to have a much greater grasp on the cost to complete the project," commented Pavlick.

After the discussion regarding the park was complete the board briefly went back to public comments. Bob Serafini of Albrightsville pointed out that the plans do not have specific details for the cost of items like picnic benches and other items that will be needed. He also expressed his concern that taxes would have to be raised to cover the shortfall of $1 million, as well as the operational costs associated with the park.

"We have an obligation to our residents to provide them with recreational facilities regardless of public opinion," stated Katz. "We have plenty of money to fund this project."

Also present at the meeting were representatives of Atlantic Wind. Atlantic had attended last month's meeting with a request to install two temporary communications towers on property owned by Bethlehem Water Authority. The towers are to gather meteorological information, which will be used to determine the feasibility of developing the property into a wind turbine farm.

Denise Yarnoff, attorney for Atlantic Wind had also addressed the township planning commission in June. Yarnoff was seeking a recommendation from the planning commission to the board of supervisors to grant approval for the project.

Yarnoff came before the board last night with a recommendation of the planning commission, which contained two conditions. The first being that Atlantic provide certification from the FAA that the towers do not have to be lit, and the second condition being that Atlantic is responsible for notifying local aeromedical companies of the location of the towers.

Atlantic Wind provided the FAA certificate and a letter, which agreed to the condition to notify the aeromedical companies to the board.

The only objection to the towers came from planning commission member William Miller.

"These towers are close to 200 feet in height and we have numerous medical helicopters that fly routinely along Route 903. We should absolutely require that the top of these towers be lit. I don't want to be that guy that says 'I told you so' after it's too late," said Miller, who had raised a similar objection during the planning commission meeting in May.

Miller also expressed his concerns for the raptors, which are known to inhabit the area.

Despite Miller's objections the board voted to grant the conditional use application of Atlantic Wind.

Supervisor Katz pointed out that the revised SALDO has been on the agenda for a number of months awaiting review and recommendations from the planning commission. The commission has yet to make a recommendation. Katz made a motion to officially advertise the SALDO with a brief summary of its contents.

Anyone wishing to review the complete document may do so at the township building.

Dan Steele of the Pennsylvania Turnpike was on hand again to address the traffic light design. The turnpike is awaiting the township to sign off on the PennDOT design. Supervisor Paul Montemuro is still objecting to the lack of a left turn signal. According to Steele the design proposed took into consideration growth over a 20-year period, which still did not indicate the need for a change in the design.

Township solicitor Gregory Mousseau point blank asked Steele what would happen if the township refused to sign off on the design.

"The alternatives are not going to be any better for the township," was Steele's response.

"This thing has been hanging out as long as the SALDO, why don't we just sign it?" asked Katz.

Mousseau made a suggestion that Montemuro meet with Steele and a representative of PennDOT to further discuss the matter.

Katz and the others supervisors agreed to give Montemuro another 30 days to try and convince PennDOT to revise the design.

During the meeting a number of people were recognized for contributions to the township. Herbert L. Green spent 29 years on the township planning commission, retiring officially in May of this year. Green was presented with a plague acknowledging his service by planning commission Chairman Allen Heydt.

Montemuro also acknowledged the assistance of several members of Penn Forest No. 1 Volunteer Fire Department. Assistant Chief Dan Reis, and firefighters Billy McDonald and Mike Gigliotti were recognized with a certificate of appreciation for helping the township pass an inspection with regard to soil impaction at the new park.

"If the soil dries out too fast it won't meet the requirements for the inspection, and it kept failing," explained Montemuro. "These guys spent the day at the park with the fire truck wetting down the soil at intervals so that it dried correctly and passed the inspection."

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