Road Safety And Water Use Among Supervisors’ Concerns
By Rick Hiduk
The condition of roadways in Wyalusing Township again dominated much of the conversation at the July 5 supervisors meeting, but a request by the Wyalusing Borough Municipal Authority to annex a water system that has served a handful of residents and businesses for a number of years is likely to prompt deeper discussions in the near future between the township and municipal authority board members.
The overall report on road renovation projects within the township was largely positive. New roads into Homets Ferry are finished and, although plans to refinish a small section of Comiskey Road off Route 409 are slightly behind schedule, chairman Marvin Meteer noted that a representative from Vestal Asphalt, the company contracted by Chesapeake Energy to do the work, said that the road should be tarred and chipped and completed with a micro-pavement within a few weeks. On July 1, Meteer related, the supervisors met with Chesapeake and another road repair company that will take up the task of recycling and rebuilding a three-mile stretch of Brewer Hollow Road. Although it will be an inconvenience for the residents closest to it, most of the paving will be done at night in order to cover the width of the road in one shot. “It’s a pretty expensive project,” said Meteer, who encourages residents to plan now for alternate routes to get them around the area until the road is finished in mid August.
A Stagecoach Lane resident was satisfied to hear that his road and Sawmill Road are both on Chesapeake’s to-do list for this summer. Another resident reported that a sluice pipe along Hemlock Road near Treetop Road had become partially exposed and partially plugged after a recent thunderstorm. Meteer made note of the situation and said that he will have it checked.
Township secretary Maxine Meteer shared correspondence with those in attendance that proved once again that there are two sides to every coin. The resident who phoned her noted that, since SR 2025—also known as Ferry Road—was rebuilt, the speed of traffic has increased to the point of making it unsafe for walking. Although she was able to hear approaching traffic, the vehicles were upon her and her dog before they could slow down, which forced her off the road and into a ditch because there is no berm.
At Mrs. Meteer’s suggestion, the resident phoned PennDOT, a representative of which referred her back to the township, which the secretary expected. Meteer, in turn, sent a letter to PennDOT that suggested that the township agreed with the resident’s complaint and that a traffic study was warranted for the consideration of a speed limit sign. “We feel that this roadway does call for a reduced speed limit,” the official township letter states. Technically, with no sign posted—other than the existing “winding road” warning—the speed limit is 55 m.p.h.
Before leaving the topic of roads, Marvin Meteer expressed concerns that new roadways, which are, in many cases, much better and wider than the original roads, will likely require more maintenance when gas-drilling activity winds down, and they are once again left in the township’s stewardship.
“This cost is going to be different because the roads are wider and of a different composition,” said Meteer. “It’s something that we will have to consider for future budgets.”
A series of waterlines are under also construction that Meteer suggested will greatly reduce the number of water tankers needed to service well pads and fill holding tanks at compressor stations. Installation of a line from the Susquehanna River downriver from the Wyalusing Area School District campus (known as the McCarty Source) will run directly to the Shaffer water impoundment site, while another line is planned to take water to the Champluvier impoundment. While less tankers on the roadways sounds good, Meteer and supervisor Art Allyn expressed concerns about the temporary lines that will still be needed to carry water from the impoundments to the well pads for fracking purposes.
“I think we’ve made it clear that there will be no more digging,” said Allyn in reference to gas companies’ practice of trenching roads—including those that have been rebuilt—to get the temporary lines across them.
Meteer had noted earlier in the meeting that he has been assured by those involved with the Brewer Hollow road project that the final roadway will be a permanent structure. Meteer has been told that future waterlines and pipelines will have to be bored under the new roadbed.
The last of the gas-related news involved requests by Central New York Oil and Gas Company to follow the lead of Chesapeake Energy by installing holding tanks rather than septic systems to accompany their compressor stations in the township.
A new business item that Meteer noted will require additional scrutiny is the aforementioned proposal by the Wyalusing Borough Municipal Authority to purchase the former “Welles Mill water system,” which relies on water currently drawn from the Jeff Homer property. Essentially, Meteer noted, the authority would like to annex the water rights to ensure that the system in place will continue to provide water for businesses along the borough’s eastern border with the township in the wake of major changes in proprietorship of that area.
“It’s a logical direction for them to go. Without representation from Welles Mill, the water system needs someone to take care of it. But we need to make sure to represent our people,” said Meteer, who added, “we just don’t want to give away the township to the borough authority. If we don’t have some voice in that, (the authority) could effectively start controlling development within the township.” Meteer suggested that the township’s solicitor would need to go over the proposal and that a meeting between the two entities would need to be arranged.
Before the meeting was adjourned, Allyn announced that the township’s new maintenance truck will be delivered any day now, and Meteer asked that the September meeting be moved to Tuesday, Sept. 13, in order for he and Mrs. Meteer to attend the National Association of Towns and Townships in Washington, D.C. that falls over the week of the normally scheduled township meeting. The other supervisors approved the request.