The Ligonier Township Supervisors are seeking input on a proposed sewage facilities plan involving a future wastewater treatment plant near the border with Fairfield Township.
The board of supervisors on Monday voted 5-0 to advertise the revised Act 537 plan prepared by The EADS Group for a 30-day public comment period. The supervisors will incorporate feedback into a final plan to be submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
Part of the Act 537 plan will be posted on the Ligonier Township website, with the full document available to view at the Ligonier Township Municipal Complex, by appointment only due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.
Focusing on a key growth area in the township — the communities of Wilpen, Waterford and Oak Grove, plus the Route 711 North corridor — the Act 537 plan involves building a new Ligonier Township Municipal Authority sewage treatment plant on Wilpen Road that would use existing infrastructure in Fairfield Township.
Permits have already been issued for small discharge points in Fairfield Township, which will be combined into one plan, Ligonier Township manager Terry Carcella further explained to the Bulletin by phone on Tuesday.
The financial figures that township engineer Ben Faas mentioned when presenting the sewage facilities plan are worst-case scenarios if Ligonier Township does not acquire any grants for the project, including a $3,550 user tap-in fee and a roughly $70 monthly rate for the projected customer area. The plan assumes 50% residential participation.
Estimated to cost just over $5 million — again, without any additional funding — the new sewage treatment plant would not be built for at least another three years, which is a best-case scenario, according to Faas.
The proposed Act 537 plan is slated for the supervisors’ Jan. 26 meeting agenda, although the full 30-day comment period will not have expired by then. The board will continue to take public remarks at that meeting and likely act on sending the plan to the DEP when it meets in February.
In other business, the supervisors tabled a resolution approving the destruction of certain Ligonier Township records under the Pennsylvania Municipal Records Act until their next meeting. Solicitor Michael Korns will expand the policy to include a schedule for records disposal and require a list of items to be approved by the supervisors before being destroyed.
According to the pending resolution, no document would be destroyed that is part of any current Right-To-Know request or litigation or that is of interest in any live case or controversy.
Carcella also gave a brief update on Ligonier Township’s recycling program, which has been in jeopardy as residents continue to deposit non-recyclable materials and leave items outside the bins.
The program accepts mixed paper and cardboard in dumpsters at the municipal complex located off Route 711 North. Residents must separate paper (newsprint, magazines and high-grade paper) into the yellow bins and flatten cardboard to place in the blue containers. Wet materials are not permitted.
The recycling program is popular with residents and only costs the township about $60 a month, but it forces staff to clean up and dispose of the garbage that accumulates when the bins are full.
Carcella will contact Royal Oak Recycling to see if additional containers can be added at the municipal building. The dumpsters are emptied irregularly because of the vendor’s limited staffing with the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
Residents are asked to contact the township office for the current recycling capacity before bringing materials.
After replacing all internal lights at the township building in 2020 with new energy-efficient LED technology, the supervisors voted to accept a bid of $8,100 from TP Electric Inc. for new outdoor LED lights — the lowest of three offers received. The cost will be split between the township’s general and capital funds.
The supervisors also adopted a resolution for a fund balance policy outlining the purposes, uses, minimum balances and reserve amounts for each of these Ligonier Township funds: General Fund, Capital Fund, State Fund (Liquid Fuels Tax Fund) and Escrow Fund.
Supervisor Stephanie Verna highlighted the General Fund specifically, noting that the intent is to maintain a $600,000 reserve, which would cover three months of operating expenses, plus carry a minimum cash balance of $300,000 into each fiscal year. According to the policy, any excess at year-end would be transferred to the Capital Fund.
The General Fund is the township’s primary operating fund for day-to-day revenues and expenditures.
This policy would allow Ligonier Township to avoid borrowing any money to bridge first quarter gaps before it receives spring real estate revenue.
The supervisors also approved the 2021 fee schedule, which now includes the new stormwater management plan fees approved by the board last year. Most stormwater plan reviews conducted since the fall have only required a minimal $25 “no-harm” fee, according to zoning and community development officer Jim Nieusma. The rates for zoning permits, site plan reviews, applications, letters and other fees have remained the same.
The Ligonier Beach Park Development Committee will meet on Feb. 4 to continue discussing recommendations on how the township should redevelop the shuttered summer landmark as a recreation spot.
As of Monday, Ligonier Township has not received any public-private partnership proposals for operating the swimming pool at Ligonier Beach, according to Nieusma, although he plans to follow up with someone interested in establishing a music venue at the site.
All public-private partnership proposals for Ligonier Beach will be accepted at the Ligonier Township office until 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 26, with a final selection to be made on March 23, according to the township’s advertised request for proposals.
The supervisors also approved a Girl Scout Silver Award project proposed by Addison Folino and Kassia McPherson, who plan to repaint the older Ligonier Township sign along the driveway to the municipal complex, build a flower bed, and add standalone planters in front of the township building.
Idlewild & SoakZone has donated a portion of the change collected from the Olde Idlewild fountain and Story Book Forest Wishing Well in 2020 to the Ligonier Valley Police Department. The supervisors thanked the amusement park for the $1,243.35 gift and for selecting the department as one of its recipients.
Supervisor John Beaufort, who was appointed board chairman for 2021, issued committee assignments for the new year: Beaufort and Verna on the Finance Committee; Verna and Paul Knupp on the Personnel Committee; Knupp and Dan Resenic on the Community Development Committee; and Resenic and Scott Matson on the Public Works Committee.
Other topics discussed at Monday’s meeting were potential purchases of a second large plow truck to help with snow removal during heavy storms like the one that hit Western Pennsylvania on Dec. 16, plus a new security camera system at the township building.