The Berks-Mont News (http://www.berksmontnews.com)

Municipal Report: Road repairs a hot issue in Union


By Tory Lingg, For Journal Register News Service

Monday, November 5, 2012

Union Township officials clashed over the means to fix the deteriorating system of 33 miles of public roads in Union Township at the October 15 meeting. Chairman Don Basile said they could repair each public road in the township once every 15 years by working on 2.5 miles of roads yearly. In 2012, two miles of roads were repaired costing about $200,000.
“We have to develop a better system to manage the roads than we have had for the past eight years, starting in 2013,” said Basile.
Supervisor John Saleneck suggested they determine which roads are actually public township roads and dedicate them to Union Township.
“We have documents... ...There is some ambiguity on which are township roads and which are not. It is my endeavor that all roads are dedicated with a 33 foot right of way so there is no dispute.”
“We have some roads with a 50 foot right of way,” said Basile. “Any roads which we take care of for 21 years are our roads.”
He mentioned George Street which was never dedicated, but became a township road when it was widened and paved. Campbell Ford Road was relocated and rebuilt.
“Those roads by description would be registered to Union Township,” said Salaneck. “That would be a deterrent if someone comes into the township and says ‘this abandoned road to my property should be opened’. I am not the crafter of this idea. It has been around for 20 years.”
He added that the township is not in a position to accept any more roads because of the financial situation in the township.
“The income from liquid fuel taxes is down this year. To avoid litigation we should determine which roads belong to the township and which are vacated.”
“It creates some interesting issues,” said Township Solicitor Fred Hatt. “This has been going on since 1989. There is nothing to preclude us from saying these are our roads and it is all we are taking care of. Why should we take care of more than we are getting paid for? Take, for example, the streets at Union Green. The people who live there can use the streets but we can’t open it without a legal hassle.”
In 1933 the township code was established which set the scope on public roads in the township. Hatt discussed some details of the of the route they would have to take to resolve the dilemma .
“I’m just trying to clean up an area,” said Salaneck. “I am just trying to have all the roads dedicated since nothing has been done since 1989. It would take a simple ordinance. Advertise the roads and be done with it.”
Basile said to table it for a month.
A possible tax increase of 1.5 mils is projected for 2013.
The taking out a loan for $200,000 was approved to update the H.V.A.C. system in the municipal building.
Concrete barriers, flashing lights, one lane traffic and weight limits have been placed on Hallman Road, said Basile.
“We should take the macadam off the culverts, stabilize them by putting rocks and concrete over them until we get the money for it and the permits, maybe later next year,” he continued.
Salaneck said he objected to a temporary fix.
“It is a waste of taxpayer’s money… …Get the permit and do it,” he stated.
Supervisor Nelson Ott said a temporary fix is needed until permits are acquired. He mentioned where a motorist smashed into temporary barriers along Crusher Road.
Salaneck suggested they take out a loan to fix the culverts. “They should be fixed right.”
“(Salaneck) has spent 94% of his budget,” said Ott. “He protests by not going to the budget meetings. We have had three or four budget meetings and Salaneck has been at one.
Get (Township Engineer Tom Unger) to look at the plates and see if they are big enough to span the holes on Hallman Road. It will take six to eight months before Hallman Road can be fixed right. Buy a plate or pour concrete and black top it, whichever is cheaper. Get it done by the end of November.”
It will cost $3000 for sufficient plates, said Salaneck.
“Plates are a temporary fix for a long time but should be there only a week or days.”
The new owner of the former Hummell property has requested permission to install a 1500 gallon holding tank until he can get permission for an alternate system from D.E.P., said Basile. The conditions of the temporary solution have to be reviewed annually.
Basile said the supervisors have to look ahead to repairing culverts that are ‘suspect’ on Sycamore, Harmonyville, Crusher, Centre and Hallman Roads.
“It has been over a year in trying to get permits for Center Road and the Army Corps of Engineers is still holding it up. Township Manager Carol Lewis has called them a number of times. There are many questions on why they don’t have the permit. The D.E.P. could have filled out the permit for the Army Corps of Engineers but they chose not to because they claim they are swamped with work. Get the permits for all five culverts.”
Unger said it would cost between $15,000 and $20,000 for the permits. Obtaining a low interest loan of to pay for the work was discussed.
The storms in 2011 caused serious damage to Hallman, Crusher and Sycamore Roads.
Emergency work is underway on Sycamore and Hallman Roads said Basile.
Ott said there was only one visitor at last month’s budget meeting.
“It is the wrong path for the township to be saddled with debt for the next 30 years,” said Salaneck. He added that the board should do one job at a time and get each done correctly instead of patching them up.
A public forum with representatives from PennDOT present should be required to settle traffic matters with the developers of Liberty MotorSport track and Vistas at Riverside, said Ott.
Rob Armbruster, representing Liberty MotorSports Park and Campground, provided information through a web site www.libertybellms.com on some details of the plans for a multi-functional and state-of-the art motorsports track. Details of the types of cars which would compete there were included. It is projected tax funds of $500,000 would go to the Daniel Boone School District, $125,000 would go to Berks County, and $32,000 would go to Union Township on completion. Details of the layout for the tracks and buildings were included. The study was done by Penn State scholars Rose Baker and David Passmore, and mentioned how the development of the 653 scenic acres along Route 724 would create jobs such as food service, architectural design, retail sales, real estate and other services through a trickle-down effect.
Basile said the noise decibels at the property line must be in agreement with those established in township codes.
The Recreation Committee will review applications by profit groups to use the municipal recreation facilities, said Chairman Jim Yocum. After the committee has done the research they will present it to the supervisors for their decision.