Water challenges top Akron council agenda

By on June 21, 2017

The Akron Borough Council voted at its June 12 council meeting to get serious about finding an additional 100,000 gallons a day for the town’s water system.

In 2016, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission informed the borough it would have to find a source for an additional 100,000 gallons a day of water. Currently, the borough has access through its wells and the Ephrata Area Joint Authority for 292,000 gallons of water per day. It uses about 250,000 gallons a day.

Under SRBC guidelines, this capacity is inadequate in the event of a drought. The current system, if weakened by drought, might also not be able to deliver 1,500 gallons of water at 70 pounds of pressure that would be needed in the event of a serious fire.

Councilman Tom Murray Sr., a member of the borough’s water committee, met with EAJA recently to discuss the SRBC mandate and how the borough might be able to meet it with more water from EAJA. Another source of additional water could be West Earl Township. A third avenue would be to drill a new well or wells to supply water for the borough system, but that would be a million-dollar or more solution, and seems to be a remote possibility.

Council voted to begin negotiations with both EAJA and West Earl Township, either one of which could potentially supply all or part of the 100,000-gallon additional capacity.

Another factor affecting the water system is Garden Spot Village’s plan to add 67 senior-living apartments to its Maple Farm retirement and skilled nursing facility. Maple Farm borders Akron but is not in the borough. The facility is partly in Ephrata Township and partly in West Earl Township. Akron supplies water and sewer service to Maple Farm, and complete details of whether the borough can accommodate the increased flows have yet to be worked out.

While there are no critical deadlines for improving the way the borough manages stormwater, it is an issue that gets regular attention. Jay Snyder, Ephrata borough’s environmental resource manager, gave a stormwater management presentation in the opening minutes of the meeting.

He said the Cocalico Creek, the Conestoga River and other waterways in Lancaster County can no longer be considered living streams.

“They are drainage ditches,” he said.

Snyder delivered the same message he had helped deliver two days before at Akron Day in the Park. Snyder, the borough and the Cocalico Creek Watershed Association teamed up with a booth promoting on-site residential and business stormwater retention. On-site retention allows stormwater to filter into the soil rather than running into the streets. A brochure showing how some Akron residents manage stormwater was available at the Saturday event and at the Monday meeting. Copies are also available at the borough hall and the Ephrata Public Library.

Returning the Cocalico back to its primal state —the way it was when the Susquehannock and the Conestoga indigenous tribes occupied the land — is a process that could take 50 to 100 years, according to Snyder.

Other business

In his report to council, Mayor John McBeth paid tribute to the late Wilmer Hall, who served the borough as mayor and councilman, and who was Akron’s first borough manager. McBeth credited Hall with bringing the town out of its “mom-and-pop” governance and into a more modern way of getting things done. McBeth also credited Hall with being a leading force in planning the Lloyd Roland Memorial Park, and in getting those plans implemented. Hall died May 16 at age 87.

On another matter, McBeth said he would order part of Main Street closed to through traffic on Aug. 8 for the Akron Fire Company’s open house. He said neighbors would be notified so as to keep inconvenience to them at a minimum.

In her report, Borough Manager Sue Davidson said she would be contacting Arro Consulting Inc., about the condition of the repaved portion of Main Street between Rothsville Road and Wolf Road. “It’s like a washboard,” she said.

Davidson also fielded several questions from a resident who said the house next to his is unoccupied most of the time, but at other times appears to be rented out to random people. Is it a B&B, he wanted to know, and if it is a B&B are there regulations to which it must adhere. Davidson said they are aware of several properties in the borough that are operating as unregulated B&Bs, and she would investigate any avenues the borough can take to deal with the issue. She told the resident she’d have some information within two weeks.

A lease with T-Mobile for its use of the town water tower has been renegotiated to take into account the relocation of some of its microwave relay equipment. T-Mobile paid the legal costs for the new lease. There are other leases, as well, for the town’s tower on the hill. Davidson said the leases bring about $1,000 a month into the borough’s coffers.

Police Chief Tom Zell said he is gathering information and prices on updates to the borough’s surveillance system. He said he would especially like a camera in the borough’s holding room because there may be times when only one officer is available to be with a detainee. He’d also like a camera in the interview room, and other spots around borough hall and the water works.

There was quite a bit of discussion about the parking situation at Roland Park. On Sunday, the day before council met, the park was overflowing with people and cars, and there were even cars parked on the steep hill above the baseball fields, just off Main Street.

Zell noted there is not nearly enough designated parking for all the people who use the park on any given good-weather weekend. There’s no way to keep people from parking on the grass, even way up on the hillside, without posting certain areas. He pointed out the areas couldn’t be posted without a borough ordinance to back up the policy. He also noted that while vehicles might create ruts in the grass from time to time, the ruts seem to take care of themselves.

Also during the meeting, council voted to approve grants to local non-profits. The Akron Fire Company will receive $15,000, half of the $30,000 budgeted for it for 2017. It will get the other half in December. Ephrata Public Library, budgeted for $20,000 for 2017 will get half now and another $10,000 in December. The Lancaster County Drug Task Force was awarded $3,900, an annual grant equivalent to $1 per resident. The Historical Society of the Cocalico Valley was given $1,000 for the 2017 budget year.

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