Keystone Villa gets green light from Boro Shovels to hit the ground soon at the former Doneckers Artworks property

By on July 10, 2013

By:

GARY P. KLINGER Review Correspondent

, Staff Writer

With a few votes by members of the Ephrata Borough Council, the proposed Keystone Villa complex cleared the final hurdles to allow work to begin at the former Doneckers Artworks Building on North State Street.

Council approved the Preliminary/Final Land Development Plan for Keystone Villa at Ephrata, 100 North State Street, dated December 6, 2012 with the most recent revision date of June 20, 2013. The measure was made with several conditions.

Those conditions included the execution of several agreements with the borough. First, an agreement of a quitclaim deed between Ephrata Borough and H. William Donecker was approved. This agreement extinguishes the existing right-of-way set aside for the trail. The second agreement is between the Borough and Keystone Villa at Ephrata LP and is the dedication easement and improvement agreement for the trail at the new location. The third agreement is between Ephrata Borough and Keystone Villa at Ephrata LP and is a maintenance agreement for the portion of the storm sewer that will be located under the proposed wing of the building.

Prior to coming before the entire council for a vote, the Development Activities Committee reviewed a request from Keystone Villa to approve their most recently revised plans.

These revised plans incorporate all the changes that have resulted from plan review comments, minor changes necessitated by the architectural design and as a result of the three agreements. A copy of the revised set of plans is available in the Codes Office.

Monday night’s actions provide for a portion of the rail trail to be relocated to run through a portion of the proposed development.

And it also clears the way for demolition and construction to begin as early as August.

Jim Elliot and Glenn Ebersole were both present to represent Keystone Villa, a senior retirement community.

"We’ve been working with you for almost two years," said Elliott of the process leading up to Monday night’s approvals. "If all goes well, we will begin to work on the process immediately."

Elliott explained that there would be considerable demolition, with the larger portion of the old Eby Shoes Building to become a rehabilitation center. The rest of the complex would be raised to make way for new construction since those portions of the building could not be brought up to code and used in a cost effective manner.

"It will take about 12 months to build," added Elliott. "We hope to be open around September of 2014 for residents to begin moving in. There will be 139 apartments and about 160 residents. We anticipate a lot of couples will live there."

Elliott added that about 150 trades jobs would be created in the demolition and reconstruction of the site.

"We are trying to use as many local vendors as possible," added Elliott.

And, when open, Elliott said about 32 1/2 full time equivalent or about 65 employees would find jobs in the new center.

"We employ a lot of part-time people in our food services and a lot of high school kids," noted Elliott. "It makes a great first job and the residents love that. Once fully occupied, about 52 full-time equivalent or 90 to 100 employees altogether would be employed. We are excited to be in the borough and a part of the community."

In other borough council news, members voted to move the proposed Warwick to Ephrata Rail Trail, or WERT, one step closer by authorizing the borough manager to enter into an Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement among Akron Borough, Ephrata Borough and Ephrata Township as it relates to the trail. In doing so, council enacted an ordinance authorizing the execution of the agreement.

Borough Manager Robert Thompson told council at last week’s working session that he had been approached by Akron Borough and Ephrata Township regarding the Ephrata Borough staff providing the construction management services to Akron Borough and Ephrata Township for their portions of the WERT. The Development Activities Committee had no objections to the Borough providing those services subject to acceptable terms and conditions including the payment of the staff’s time in addition to an administrative fee.

A pre-bid meeting was held and the project opened to bids. But so far, Thompson indicated the bidding process has yielded bids which are outside the budgeted amount.

"The bidding process opened up last Wednesday," noted Thompson. "The committee will need to discuss this further. Of the bids received, all are way over budget so far. This will be a matter for the committed to discuss what we can do with awarding bids and what we may need to do to value engineer it down. All three sections are over budget."

Thompson also noted that the borough continues to work with Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (or DCNR) regarding grants and any other money which might be available to help mitigate the cost of the project.

Council also approved a contract for $40,000 plus $2,800 for expenses to GDS Associates, Inc. of Marietta, GA for a Cost of Services and Rate Study. Director of Operations, Thomas Natarian discussed the study with the Municipal Enterprises Committee. He explained that the study will evaluate each of the rate classes and develop unbundled rates that separate the energy costs from the distribution costs. It is expected that the study would be completed in the second half of 2013. Implementation could occur as soon as mid-year 2014 or the start of 2015.

"When we approve dollar amounts for studies, we get asked, ‘Why all these studies? Why that kind of money’," noted committee chair Bob Good. "In this particular case it has to do with our electric rates. I’ve been sitting up here for a while now and electric rates are one of the most complex issues to deal with on this council. I truly believe we do look and do ask for the justification for why it is important to spend the money. I think this is a worthwhile study to look at ways to provide a better service within a reasonable economic value and that is for the overall good of the community."

Council also voted to award a contract to Musser’s Excavating of Lititz in the amount of $6,654 for the demolition of the flood damaged home located at 1051 James Avenue. A demolition notice was provided to the owner of record, and they have failed to execute it. The Borough will execute the order in the interest of public health, safety and welfare and a lien will be placed on the property for all costs associated with executing the order.

And finally, Monday night’s meeting marked the inauguration of two new Junior Council members. High school students Julie Brubacher and Kathryn Harris were both sworn in by council president Dale Hertzog.

For additional information on Ephrata Borough, please visit their website at www.ephrataboro.org. Gary P. Klinger welcomes your questions, comments and suggestions via email at klingerglobal@gmail.com.

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