Excitement builds around new pool

By on February 8, 2012

By: GARY P. KLINGER Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

With a little more than 100 short days before the Memorial Day weekend grand opening of the newly-renovated Ephrata Community Pool, progress on the new facility continues to move at a brisk pace.

Ephrata Borough Council Community Services Committee Chair Tom Reinhold updated council members on the obvious progress being made.

"The slides are in. The weather has been good and the guys have been working (very hard)," said Reinhold, adding that he had personally seen crews working on site by flashlight at 6:30 p.m. on a Saturday only to return again on Sunday to get it done.

Borough Manager Bob Thompson concurred.

"We are excited about the pool project," added Thompson. "We’ve got a winner on our hands!"

Reinhold said he won’t begin to actively count down the days remaining until opening until about thirty days out, when he can rest easier that all work will be completed on time. Thompson agreed that, especially if the mild temperatures and clear weather continue to cooperate, the project is clearly on target for completion in time for Memorial Day weekend.

In other council news, two committees will seek council approval to move forward with budgeted moves which would update and upgrade the borough’s fleet of vehicles.

First up is a proposal by the Public Safety Committee to replace eight of the Ephrata Police cruisers with 2012 Dodge Chargers, to be leased through the COSTARS program and New Holland Auto Group. Lt. Tom Shumaker explained to council that the new vehicles would be leased through Sovereign Bank for a period of four years at 3 percent interest.

"Sovereign was the lowest of the four lending firms consulted," noted Shumaker. "The vehicles will be covered during that time bumper to bumper thus lowering fleet maintenance costs."

Mayor Ralph Mowen added that the new vehicles would be turn-key units, with the cars coming already fully set-up and equipped for police service. The only thing the police department, which serves both the borough and Ephrata Township, would still need to complete is official striping and outfitting the trunk gear, per borough specification.

Safety Committee chair Bob Good told council members that the leased items had been included in the 2012 budget and fell within planned-for dollar amounts.

Chairman of the Highway Committee, George DiIlio, said his committee will seek council approval for the purchase of a 2012 Elgin Whirlwind Street Sweeper. Purchased through the COSTARS program, the new unit will cost $251,131 and will come equipped with two-way radio, emergency equipment and a fire extinguisher. The new unit will replace the 1997 street sweeper, which will be sold at the Lancaster County municipal auction at the appropriate time.

The Highway Committee will also seek approval to purchase a 2012 Ford Explorer 4×4 and a 2012 Ford F-350XL 4×4, with dump bed and plow through the COSTARS and New Holland Auto Group. Overall, the cost of the three units will be under budget, even though the cost of the Ford Explorer is above what had been budgeted for that unit.

The Explorer will replace a 1999 unit. The Ford F-350XL will replace a 2003 unit, which will be transferred for use by the Rec Center. The new unit will be outfitted with an aluminum dump body and v-plow, two-way radio, rack and fire extinguisher.

Council member Susan Rowe questioned Thompson on the transfer of the 2003 pick-up truck to the Rec Center. Thompson clarified that the borough would be transferring ownership of the truck to the rec center but would not receive any financial consideration for the transfer.

Council hopes to net between $10,000 and $20,000 from the sale of the other two retired units.

The Development Activities Committee will seek approval for final plan modifications for the Ephrata Community Hospital. ECH originally came before council in 2008 with plans to expand the emergency department. It is now ready to move forward with the plans. Chairperson Rowe told council the footprint of the proposed expansion had increased since the original plans were submitted. In addition, the hospital would be adding six parking spaces, a new driveway and increasing the storm water basin. While none of the changes were substantial, the plans would nonetheless require the nod of council prior to commencing with work.

The committee will also seek full approval for the ag program at Ephrata Senior High School to conduct their sheep project for two-to-three weeks in March. This is a program similar to the department’s sow program last spring.

"The only thing I would want to say is that we were tremendously impressed with how the sow project went last year," said Rowe. "Everything went according to plan, led by some very conscientious students and faculty. We will be recommending approval."

Council also debated a request by Downtown Ephrata Incorporated (DEI) for the borough to either waive the organization’s rent for use of their office in the Railroad Station or consider not requiring the six-month notice to end the lease. DEI pays the borough $520 per month for office space located to the rear of the historic downtown location. Committee chair Reinhold, expressing concern about setting a precedent, seemed inclined to oppose the move.

Reinhold cited a Jan. 3 letter from DEI president Bill Warrell in making the request. DEI has indicated that it may be able to be just as effective with a virtual office and that with advances in technology and the cost of rent, it was becoming hard to justify the typical "bricks and mortar" type of solution. Reinhold will recommend council waive the six-month notice to terminate the agreement.

"I’m concerned that one of the parties driving the several hundred dollars on the train station renovation are now saying they don’t need to be there," said council member Vic Richard. "They are there to enhance the downtown but not located downtown?"

Mayor Mowen indicated that while DEI may no longer be located in the train station they were working on a solution which would mean it would still have a physical presence in the downtown district. Thompson added that DEI was working with The Funnest Toy Store Ever to launch an incubator project, which would utilize space on the store’s second floor. In addition, DEI would be helping to provide some of the $15,000 needed to make the plan work.

Currently the Ephrata Chamber of Commerce occupies space at the front of the train station and has regular office hours daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., to answer questions and even manage the public bathrooms located within the building. That arrangement would continue going forward even if DEI might move on to other locations.

Ephrata Borough Council will hold its regular voting session on Monday night, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. For additional information on Ephrata Borough, visit ephrataboro.org. Gary P. Klinger welcomes your comments, suggestions and questions at klingerglobal@gmail.com.

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