Modern mapping technology may help Ligonier Township’s public works department with tracking, monitoring and addressing problematic stormwater management infrastructure throughout the municipality.
During the past two years, The EADS Group has gradually built a “living map” showing the locations of storm pipes, catch basins and culverts in the township using a geographic information system software that can be continuously updated over time.
EADS engineer Ben Faas on Tuesday gave the Ligonier Township board of supervisors and staff a demonstration of the work-in-progress ArcGIS map that concentrates on the highest-populated and biggest stormwater runoff problem areas in the municipality.
The current inventory covers about 35% to 40% of Ligonier Township, focusing on several priority areas: Laughlintown, Oakwood Hills, around the municipal complex on Route 711 North, Darlington Road and near the Grey Goose on Route 30 West, and other miscellaneous parts of the township.
Each point of interest on the map includes details such as location, type, shape, dimensions, material, age and condition of the stormwater management feature, along with photographs of the area.
The inventory also covers about 50% of street signs in Ligonier Township, all generally located north of Route 30.
The only tools or instruments the public works crew would need to use the ArcGIS database is a smart tablet, which employees would use to update the stormwater inventory map as they locate controls not fully visible while in the field.
Township manager Terry Carcella pointed out the efficiency of tracking the stormwater controls on the map versus marking pipes with reflector stakes, as supervisor Scott Matson suggested.
“We would have probably a thousand different [reflective] tape points out there on the roads,” Carcella said, also noting the time and materials that would be needed.
The ArcGIS database is housed on the EADS network server. Faas said the software can work offline and will update when the tablet reconnects to a network, as supervisor Stephanie Verna pointed out the spotty cellular service throughout Ligonier Township.
Data can be downloaded to and sorted in a spreadsheet to help the township prioritize and budget annual maintenance work.
“What GIS is intended to be is a constantly living map. What we did this year and last year isn’t necessarily a study. That’s where we’d like to get sometime, and we can do individual studies along the way. But what we did was inventory what was able to be located. That’s half the battle.” Faas said.
“This is 100% editable over time as things are located,” he added.
Supervisors Verna and Dan Resenic suggested having public works director Russ Morgan evaluate the ArcGIS map capabilities and have EADS conduct a workshop training for the department to familiarize employees with the application.
“I see tremendous value, but it has to be used to get the value of it,” Resenic said.
In other business, Ligonier Township’s new property maintenance code is now in effect, after many months of drafting, discussion and deliberation over a document designed to help staff better address hazardous properties.
The supervisors voted 3-1 to approve the ordinance that includes the code, after hosting a public hearing in August to hear testimony on the final document. Supervisor Paul Knupp was absent.
The code addresses outdoor property issues such as sanitation and rodent/insect infestation, plus unsafe exterior structure conditions and garbage accumulation. It also outlines the fines and penalties for violating the ordinance.
Matson, was the lone vote opposed to the property maintenance ordinance, explaining that he would only vote for the garbage-related regulations.
“I said I’d vote for the garbage, because I think it’s a shame when people leave stuff lay around. Rodents, bees, rats, whatever. But that’s all I’d vote for, is the garbage. This is America. Not a resort,” Matson said.
The planning commission spent several months reviewing and revising solicitor Michael Korns’ initial version of the ordinance, which was based on portions of the 2012 International Property Maintenance Code and Penn Township’s property maintenance ordinance.
The supervisors earlier this summer further tweaked the planning commission’s recommended draft, which overall was reduced from 40 pages to only a dozen, as officials eliminated references to property interiors and a grass height limit, among other changes.
Considered more enforceable than Ligonier Township’s nuisance ordinance, the property maintenance ordinance allows residents to submit verbal rather than signed written complaints against blighted properties to zoning and community development officer Jim Nieusma, who can investigate and issue citations to property owners.
The supervisors also approved a side-lot addition to resolve a property line misunderstanding between a landowner near Laughlintown and Rolling Rock Farms.
The subdivision separates a tenth of an acre from the Mellon Bank-owned property at 3096 Route 381 and conveys it to neighbors Albert and Nancy Muse, who had previously paved the area to create a parking lot, believing it to be part of their lane.
The planning commission reviewed and recommended approval of the plan at its August meeting.
Ligonier Township is collaborating with Ligonier Borough and the Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce on a new community map to commemorate the township’s Bicentennial in 2022.
The township is seeking a printer that can produce the type of booklet with pull out maps that it envisions. Carcella presented the supervisors with proposed rates for advertising space.
Proceeds from the map would be split between the Ligonier Valley Police Department and the Ligonier fire companies.
Nieusma said topics discussed during the Ligonier Township Recreation Board’s meeting on Monday included where to add stream access at Ligonier Beach Park, an ongoing landscaping project at Mill Creek Memorial Park and a potential Ligonier Valley Trail extension from Bethlen Communities to the bridge trailhead.
The Ligonier Community Garden Kid’s Corner program won children’s educational gardening program first place awards from the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania and the National Garden Clubs organization, Nieusma announced.
He also mentioned that the recreation board is exploring a pavilion at Mill Creek Memorial Park but needs to talk to the Westmoreland Conservation District about a possible permit as the structure would be located within a floodway.
Both Cook and Fairfield townships are open to joining Ligonier Township in submitting a joint grant application for broadband expansion in the region, finance officer Bethany Caldwell reported.
The supervisors in October can expect to see a draft 2022 budget for Ligonier Township along with initial reports from the township’s Strategic Management Planning project being completed by Grass Root Solutions.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) will be applying for a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) water obstruction permit for a bridge replacement on Nature Run Road, according to Carcella.
Ligonier Township will hold its annual Halloween Trick-or-Treat hours from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 30, as approved by the board.
The supervisors have a work session scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Sept. 28, immediately followed by the monthly public works meeting.