Exeter Township to rebid RCC tree project

News photo by Donna Rovins The driveway of the Reading County Club, where some trees are being replaced due to deterioration.

The Exeter Township Board of Supervisors voted Jan. 28 to rescind a contract to replace trees at The Reading County Club, and rebid the project.

The $118,500 contract was awarded just two weeks before to Buddies Nursery, the lone bidder for the contract.

The new bid request will reduce the size of the trees being requested, which country club Golf Superintendent Brian Ahrens said might allow for competitive bidding.

The new specifications call for six (6) 6-7 inch caliper; eighteen (18) 5-6 inch caliper; and, twenty (20) 4-5 inch caliper trees.

Ahrens said he still feels the larger caliper trees are necessary, especially near the first tee.

“There is a spot along the driveway where the first tee comes into play with cars coming up and down the road. That’s why I wanted the larger trees in there, to shield the road or the driveway from the errant tee shots coming off the first tee,” Ahrens told the board last week.

To date, an estimated 22 trees have either been removed or are in some stage of removal. Ahrens was hoping to have the new trees planted by the end of March. The plan calls for a total of 44 trees to be removed, determined by a certified arborist to be in need of replacement.

The board added two alternates to the bid specifications, asking for pricing if all the trees were replaced with the 5-6 inch caliper and pricing if all the trees were replaced using the 4-5 inch caliper.

Funding for the trees will come out of the environmental fund established when Exeter Commons was built, to replace the trees that were taken down to allow for that project.

Supervisor Gary Lloyd voted against the new request for proposals.

In other business:

The board has once again tabled a decision on whether the township should move ahead with building a new firehouse for the Exeter Township Volunteer Fire Department.

The ETVFD first came before the board in Jan. 2012 with a proposal to construct a new central facility at an estimated cost of $2.5 million. At the time, the board gave the go-ahead for the ETVFD to look more seriously at the feasibility.

Since then, there have been follow-up presentations to the board, as well as a public meeting. At that public meeting, the township took the opportunity to talk about space needs for the police department as well.

Subsequent discussions have centered on whether the two should be located in the same new building, or whether the police should take over the current administration building and move the administrative functions to a different location.

Preliminary estimates on building a new Police department building range from just over $2 million to $4 million.

In the year since making its first presentation, the ETVFD has looked at possible funding options and has approached potential private donors, securing a $400,000 commitment over a five year period.

“Our project as it stands now doesn’t require a tax increase until 2016 – maybe longer,” said Deputy Fire Chief Christopher Jordan. “Right now, 2013, 2014 and 2015 are fully funded. That gives us time to generate funds for this project to assist in offsetting some of the expenses.”

But he urged the board to make a commitment.

“The building needs on the fire side are still paramount on the front burner and need to be addressed,” Jordan added. “We need to do something. We’ve given you all the answers you wanted; we’ve raised a substantial amount of money. There are multiple ways to fund this project - whether the police, ambulance, admin are involved. It’s a need; it’s something that needs to be addressed.”

“The next step is everybody here needs to come in in two weeks and say whether you are willing to raise taxes for this building ,” said supervisor Gary Lloyd.

Township Manager Troy Bingaman was asked to provide some options for relocating township administration and engineering; by the board’s next meeting, if possible.