Road Repairs Top Priorities Among Wyalusing Township Supervisors
Although an anticipated backlash against the recent conditional use application amended and approved for an asphalt plant in Browntown by Wyalusing Township Supervisors didn’t materialize at the regular April 5 meeting, supervisor Marvin Meteer discussed the matter briefly as he wrapped up the evening.
Meteer explained that he was able to satisfy concerns presented to him via e-mail by WBRE investigative reporter Joe Holden that the supervisors had not followed proper protocol in the handling of the application. Meteer assumes that WBRE and other media outlets were contacted by township and Wyalusing borough residents who were apprehensive about the project.
“As far as we’re concerned, the decision still stands,” Meteer related via phone the next morning. “At this point, (the situation) is in the hands of (Glenn O.) Hawbaker (Inc.).”
As reported in the March 3 edition of the Rocket-Courier, the building of the asphalt plant is not a certainty, as the supervisors cited 26 conditions that Hawbaker would have to meet to move forward with the project, and Hawbaker representative Carl Bankert noted that the window of opportunity for an appeal by the company has closed. He offered no timeline as to when the company would render a final decision. “We’re still not quite certain,” Bankert stated. “We’re still weighing our options.”
Meteer acknowledged that the issue is a sensitive one, “not just for Wyalusing Township, but for the entire Wyalusing area.”
“It’s not that (the supervisors) are not going to make decisions that are in the best interest of our people,” Meteer continued. “But we don’t want to make it seem like we are an unfriendly community.” Despite the fact that the borough’s welcome signs state the community is “friendly and progressive,” he added, the negative publicity that followed the decision painted the opposite picture. “That’s kind of unfortunate for our area,” said Meteer.
Much of the meeting was comprised of discussions about roadwork in the township. As the alternating freezing and thawing of spring hastens the deterioration of many thoroughfares in Wyalusing Township, Meteer reported that talks are underway with Chesapeake Energy Corporation to ensure that roadways used for gas drilling operations are restored in the coming months.
“Our residents deserve to have back the roads that they had prior to this,” Meteer stated. During the course of the meeting, he also mentioned the probability of the township supervisors drafting an ordinance that “puts a little more teeth into determining how they treat our roads.”
Initial priorities include making repairs to Poplar Road, as well as sections of Route 409 and Stagecoach Road. Chesapeake has recommended a new temporary surface that is comprised of a double layer of oil and chips and a tar seal on top. Meteer is concerned, however, that such a surface will give way to the heat of the sun once warmer weather is here to stay. Gas company representative John Voda suggested that the sun actually helps to “set” oil, chips, and tar, but Meteer and township roadmaster Jerry Cooley are skeptical. Cooley, Meteer related, will contact Vestal Asphalt and ask to see some examples of roadways to which this remedy has been successfully applied.
A similar process has been suggested for the temporary renovation of Stafford Creek and Beacon Hill roads. Subsequent roadways to be addressed may include Lime Hill Road to Homets Ferry and sections of Grandview Road. Discussions with Chesapeake are also underway to conduct repairs to Sawmill Road and Brewer Hollow Road, from Beacon Hill to the upper end of the Cargill parking lot. The latter will received a “full depth reclamation” with a cement sub-mixture and an asphalt top. Eventually, Meteer explained, all roads that formerly had an asphalt top will be repaved. In some cases, the new roads will be better than the old roads.
The township will continue to maintain roads that are not regularly used by the gas company. Meteer acknowledged that all roads in the township have taken a beating from erratic weather conditions over the past month. Another concern that Meteer plans to take up with the gas company is the recent expansion of waterlines run alongside roadways. The flexible lines must be moved back from the roadway to the tree line soon to make room for roadside mowing.
At this point, Meteer suggested, maintaining a good working relationship with the gas companies is the only way to ensure that the condition of area roads does not get out of hand since Wyalusing Township—like most local municipalities—is cash-strapped.
“We have no income from the production of natural gas yet, although the governor has sort of opened the door to some kind of impact fee,” said Meteer. “We need that money. If we don’t get it, we will have no choice but to raise property taxes.”
In other business, a motion was approved to accept a contract from Kuharchik Construction of Exeter to maintain the traffic light at the intersection of Wyalusing-New Albany Road and Route 6. According to Meteer, Mike Kuharchik has been involved with the manufacturer that installed the traffic signal. The contract provides for annual maintenance and emergency service. “The good news is that these traffic signals work for a long time without malfunctioning,” Meteer remarked.
The only public commentary at the meeting involved concerns expressed by Patty Otis about the stream that runs along Route 409 from Wyalusing Township into Camptown. The stream was dry for years and is not known to have a name. Several years of sufficient to excessive rainfall, however, have turned the gully into a raging brook that has eroded properties along its banks and left Otis’s basement constantly damp despite the use of several pumps and dehumidifiers. The problem, Otis contends, is that flash flood debris is not removed regularly from a bridge over the stream, which has caused extensive erosion around the abutments and all along the stream. Supervisors acknowledged Otis’s concerns, but conceded that their influence over the problem is limited. Meteer recommended that Otis and her neighbors contact the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and Bradford County Soil Conservation Service as he already has on several occasions.
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