Council supports Speedwell resolution Collective effort to stop pollution

By on April 25, 2012

By: GARY P. KLINGER Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer

Lititz Borough Council put its support behind an effort to stop potential stream pollution caused by the drained Speedwell Forge Dam.

On Tuesday night, council expressed support for efforts already undertaken in a joint resolution by Warwick, Elizabeth and Penn townships regarding the Speedwell Forge Dam and Hammer Creek. Warwick was the first to adopt the resolution at its April 18 board of supervisors meeting. Similar resolutions have either been or soon will be adopted by the other two municipalities.

The collective goal is to "ensure the welfare, safety and economic well-being of the Hammer Creek Watershed and the prudent use of taxpayer funds."

The resolution expresses concern that since the dam at the Speedwell Forge Lake has been removed from operation by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, since September 2011, it is allowing for excessive and likely highly contaminated legacy sediment discharge into the Hammer Creek.

Legacy sediment has been identified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Chesapeake Bay Commission and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, among others, as a major environmental watershed hazard. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has adjudged legacy sediments as nutrient-rich. The resolution further states that the commission has by "oversight or negligence not elected to analyze the levels of nitrogen, phosphorous or other nutrients carried into the Hammer Creek within the sediment."

The Speedwell Forge Lake dam has for nearly a half-century functioned as a de-facto legacy sediment trap for the Hammer Creek Watershed. The commission has announced its intention to breach the dam as early as July.

By adopting their own resolution in support of the joint resolution passed by the supervisors of Warwick, Elizabeth and Penn townships, council members are hoping the expression of united support might bring about the following action:

1. The townships believe no breach or other action should be undertaken by the commission on the Speedwell Forge Lake dam until complete professional, independent environmental and fiscal analyses of all restoration options are completed at the commission’s expense to evaluate the ecological and economic impacts on the stream, wildlife and adjacent and downstream properties within the Hammer Creek Watershed, and the prudent use of taxpayer resources. Furthermore, said analyses shall be provided to the townships and the general public in a timely manner for review and official evaluation.

2. The townships call upon the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Lancaster County Conservation District and the Lancaster County Commissioners to provide verification that any action implemented by the commission is in compliance with the 1972 Clean Water Act in its response to the Speedwell Forge Lake dam.

"The three townships are in the Hammer Creek Watershed," explained Warwick Township Supervisor C. David Kramer who has been active in efforts regarding Speedwell. "It is also planned that the resolution will soon be recommended for the support of the Lancaster County Conservation District governing board, as well as independent watershed groups. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Chesapeake Bay Commission have been informed of this resolution, as have Senator Brubaker, Representative Bear and Representative Creighton."

"There will be a long slug before this is resolved," said borough council president Karen Weibel. "There has been a bit of a lull in the action, but there is ongoing support from both Sen. Mike Brubaker and State Rep. John Bear to spur the various agencies to carry on."

In an unrelated resolution, council urges the Pennsylvania General Assembly to modernize the state prevailing wage act (Act 442 of 1961)

The PA Prevailing Wage Act requires that workers on public construction, reconstruction, demolition, alteration, and/or repair projects with an estimated cost greater than $25,000 be paid a wage set by the Secretary of Labor and Industry rather than local market rates. The prevailing wage rates set by the Secretary of Labor and Industry are generally 20-40 percent higher than local market labor rates. The cost and burden of these artificially inflated wages are then borne by the taxpayers in the form of higher construction costs and higher taxes than would otherwise be necessary.

Local municipalities have also found that local contractors often choose not to bid on prevailing wage projects due to the administrative and financial overhead required.

According to the resolution, the PA Prevailing Wage Act has not been amended since 1963 to reflect the changes of the past 50 years. The resolution points to the fact that not only has inflation changed considerably since 1963, but the $25,000 limit set then equates to $183,203 in 2011 dollars.

House Bill 1329 of the 2011 session would, if enacted, increase the prevailing wage threshold from $25,000 to $185,000 and adjust this amount annually based on the Consumer Price Index. In addition, House Bill 1685 of the 2011 session would, if enacted, require the Secretary of Labor and Industry to develop a uniform and complete list of worker classifications and place this information on a publicly accessible website.

Weibel pointed out that Lititz would be among a growing list of groups in support of such reform. She added that Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray has supported this for quite a while.

"Some are concerned that this is the first step toward preventing prevailing wage," note Weibel. "It does not aim to prevent the prevailing wage at all. It simply updates the dollar amount of projects excluded from it. (Warwick Township Manager) Dan Zimmerman estimates their new salt shed could have been reduced in cost by $10,000 if not for the prevailing wage."

Weibel said she expects a vote on the measure will be coming perhaps within the next week.

In other borough council business:

It was noted that the countywide burn ban may be lifted as early as this Friday, April 27 since the area has received a soaking rainfall over the past several days.

Council also approve the hiring of Steven A. Martin of Spruce Street to be a new crossing guard. Dave Bomberger was appointed to the Lititz Sewer Authority. Regarding the zoning hearing board, member Joe Kane was moved to alternate, with Devin Learn moved to a permanent position. This move was made necessary due to Mr. Kane’s work schedule.

Council approved a request from Lititz Police Chief William Seace for two officers to attend the Street Survivor training session to be held Sept. 20 and 21.

"This training will provide an update on the latest things affecting officer safety and survival," explained Seace. "This is a very well respected and well attended event. It comes to Harrisburg every other year. It is highly regarded in the police field and will give the officer the edge going into various scenarios."

President Weibel noted the upcoming opening day of the Lititz Outdoor Farmers Market on May 19. She said the event was to be sponsored by Citizens First and would feature many returning vendors as well as several new vendors. She added that typically the market has between 16 and 24 vendors. Eighteen vendors are expected for the season’s kick off event.

Council Member Todd Fulginiti addressed council on complaints he had received from numerous residents regarding the delivery of The Shopping News. At issue is that residents are not able to opt out of receiving The Shopping News and the often unsafe manner in which the paper is often delivered.

"Should a resident be able to not get that paper if they do not want it?" asked Fulginiti. "It is an irritation and now also a nuisance."

It was reported that the paper has often been delivered even to properties which are clearly unoccupied. Borough Manager Sue Barry said that the zoning officer has been in touch with the circulation manager at The Shopping News, but little has changed.

Council agreed to refer the matter to borough solicitor Mike Davis to write a letter to The Shopping News addressing the issue. More BOROUGH COUNCIL, page A14