Happy trails ahead for townships

By on February 15, 2017

The paved and lighted section of the trail runs on the former Reading Railroad  from Fulton Street in Ephrata to midtown Akron.

The Warwick to Ephrata Rails-to-Trails project was discussed at a recent Ephrata Township Supervisor’s meeting and the final connections are coming soon.

The supervisors approved Wilson Consulting Group for engineering services regarding an abandoned railroad bridge over the Cocalico Creek as the next step toward project completion.

Ephrata Township is not slated to complete its remaining 945 feet of trail connecting the township to Warwick Township until 2018. However, in preparation for that next phase, both Ephrata and Warwick townships are working together with Wilson Consulting on pre-design and design services related to the old bridge.

Warwick Township intends to apply for a Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant in April 2017 for retrofit repairs to the bridge with intentions of keeping it for use with the trail.

Back in May 2014, the bridge was inspected by Wilson Consulting and deemed to be in overall fair condition, capable of supporting the intended live loads expected with the rail trails.

Current construction of the bridge is timber railroad ties which Wilson indicated are not conducive to trail usage. As such, either a new concrete or new timber deck with safety railing would be necessary to provide adequate safety and a acceptable riding surface.

The supervisors approved their half of the $23,500 cost to have Wilson Consulting begin a more thorough study of the bridge to pre-design and then design the retrofit for proper live load capacity, bridge deck width and railing height. Bridge footings will also need to be inspected and state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) permits prepared.

In other business, Township Manager Steve Sawyer submitted the draft update to the township’s burning ordinance. He explained the update was necessary to clear up some wording which made the previous ordinances (#115 and 129) difficult to understand.

“This was started back in November and we just got it back from our solicitor yesterday,” Sawyer said. “I would like the board to review it and make any suggestions and send back with any comments.

Sawyer said he would also like the police department to review the ordinance. Once that is done, it will go back to the board for approval at its next meeting.

The supervisors were asked to consider a request by the Ephrata Baseball Association to place sponsor banners on the batting cage at the Ephrata Township Park for the 2017 season.

While Sawyer and the supervisors are supportive of the baseball program, they were concerned about the precedence. Not only does the baseball team use the field, but youth soccer does, as well.

“It’s not that a couple of banners on the fence would be a problem,” said Sawyer. “It’s that it would be difficult to turn down (a request) in the future, if for some reason, we would feel that would be necessary.”

The supervisors agreed. John Weber said he wanted to encourage teams to do other forms of fundraising.

Engineer Jim Caldwell also pointed out that he’s seen cases where approving one set of sponsors this year sets up a situation where other potential sponsors feel they are entitled to a “turn” sponsoring on the fence the next year. By not approving the request, it avoids such potential conflicts.

The supervisors unanimously voted down the request.

For additional information on Ephrata Township, visit their website at ephratatownship.org. Gary P. Klinger is in his second decade welcoming your questions and feedback via email at klingerglobal@gmail.com.


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