Villa planned at former Artworks moving forward Council also plans for new tenant at former state police barracks

By on February 13, 2013

By: GARY P. KLINGER Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

More approvals went through Ephrata Borough Council this week for the eventual construction of a retirement community at the former Doneckers Artworks property.

Counci members voted to approve several waivers and modifications for the Preliminary /Final Land Development Plan for Keystone Villas at Ephrata. The proposed new senior retirement community will be located at 100 North State Street, in the former Artworks at Doneckers building. The development will offer both independent living accommodations as well as those for personal and memory care. Council also approved the Subdivision and Land Development Agreement in a form acceptable to the Borough Solicitor with Keystone Villa at Ephrata LP.

As depicted in concept drawings by the developer, much of the existing building will be renovated and used. One portion of the existing building will be demolished, while an addition will be added to another section. Earlier, council approved plans for Keystone Villa to move and complete a portion of the rail-to-trail through the property. And since that portion will be located on private property, Keystone Villa also agreed to maintain that portion of the trail.

In other borough news:

?Work is set to soon begin on Ephrata Borough’s 2020 Comprehensive Strategic Plan now that borough council has voted to clear the way.

With a unanimous vote, council awarded the contract to update the plan to Thomas Committa Associates of West Chester in the amount of $49,000. It also authorized an unbudgeted expenditure of $4,000 from the unallocated fund balance of the Capital Reserve Fund to cover the difference between the $45,000 budgeted for the project and the awarded bid of $49,000.

At last week’s working session of council, council person Susan Rowe requested that borough staff review the specifics of the Committa proposal for ways to affect potential cost savings.

Borough manager Bob Thompson reported back to council on the work done in the past week along these lines.

"I’ve submitted to you a revised fee estimate which lists some activities (for which) we can achieve some savings through use of borough staff," explained Thompson.

Through a variety of things, from taking certain clerical and copying tasks in-house to seven handling certain meetings, Thompson feels there is a good chance the $4,000 from the unallocated fund balance may not be needed.

Thompson suggested two possible courses of action. He suggested that council could approve the entire $49,000 while continuing efforts to make the additional $4,000 unnecessary or approve the $45,000 per the budget, requesting additional funds up to the $4,000 as needed.

"I appreciate that staff did that," commented Rowe. "As committee chair, I feel we should keep the $4,000 in and if don’t need to spend it, it would then reduce the final amount we need to transfer from the fund."

While the Committa proposal is not the lowest and is currently $4,000 over the budgeted amount, members of council felt a level of comfort in awarding the contract to Committa since he had overseen the previous comprehensive strategic plan.

Thompson pointed out that since Committa and Associates had completed the prior plan, they were already familiar with Ephrata Borough and would already have completed much of the preliminary groundwork so that they could hit the ground running. This would allow them to deliver on a more aggressive approach to completing the work under budget and on time.

?Council also voted with regard to several borough property issues.

First up, council approved a feasibility study to explore the possibility of creating a second salt shed. Members voted to accept the proposal from ELA Group, Inc in the amount of $15,120 to conduct the study to explore ways in which the borough might increase road salt storage from its current capacity of 400 tons to a new level of 1,400 tons. Further, the study has the objective of looking at ways in which the borough might improve salt distribution by strategically locating road salt storage areas.

Currently, the borough maintains a shed for this purpose at the Public Works Complex, lower yard at Church and Pine streets.

According to Chairman George DiIlio, the current location would be included in the feasibility study, considering the possibility of expansion.

"We plan to analyze and evaluate at least four areas within the borough that would be strategically viable options for storing road salt/de-icing materials," stated DiIlio. "We’d like to define a central location for road salt/deicing materials within each distribution area and then determine the optimal location for each storage facility, along with conceptual plans and cost estimates to procure the area and construct the facility."

DiIlio discussed the timeline for the study.

"The project kick-off meeting is tentatively scheduled for this week, with a project status meeting toward the end of March, and a presentation and discussion of the final report is planned on May 1. I anticipate council action on the report no earlier than June, after the report has been first reviewed by staff and eventually by the Highway Committee of Council. Following that, there would be potential property acquisition and eventual construction."

On the average, Ephrata uses 1,400 tons of road salt per winter season, outstripping the current facilities 400 ton capacity.

"The desire is to increase the Borough’s overall capacity to 1,400 tons to maintain road salt/de-icing materials inventory equivalent to one winter season of use, while improving the borough’s ability to distribute these materials more effectively," added DiIlio.

?Council also approved two other recommendations of the Development Activities Committee. In the first measure, council authorized an unbudgeted expenditure from the unallocated balance of the General Fund to perform a commercial appraisal for the former Pennsylvania State Police Barracks located at 21 Springhouse Road in Ephrata Township for the not to exceed cost of $4,000.

Thompson explained that the borough owns the former state police barracks. Now that the state police have closed that barracks and have vacated the building, the borough is interested in considering the value of the building both in terms of potential lease income as well as market value of the property should council decide to sell the location.

"Now that (the State Police) have vacated the building we would like to find another occupant by either sale or lease," commented Thompson. "We need the appraisal to determine the value of the property before it can be marketed."

In the other measure brought forward by the Development Activities Committee, council voted to authorize an unbudgeted expenditure from the unallocated fund balance of the General Fund to perform a commercial appraisal for the property located at 35 East Fulton Street not to exceed a cost of $4,000.

"The borough was approached by the owner and asked if we would be interested in the property," explained Thompson, with regard to the Fulton Street location. "The property is adjacent to existing borough property along the Rail Trail. The staff reviewed some potential uses for the property with the Development Activities Committee, and as a result they have asked for an appraisal of the property before determining if they are interested in pursuing it."

While the Borough has no immediate need for additional space, there are many possible future uses of the lot. The property will need to be appraised to see if the asking price of $245,000 is reasonable. The staff will get three quotes for appraisal services. The Committee will recommend obtaining a commercial appraisal at a value not to exceed $4,000.

?In police news, council members recognized several members of Ephrata’s Finest for a job well done in cooperation with the Lancaster County Major Crimes Task Force.

"Detective Bradley Ortenzi, Detective Kenneth Lockhart and Support Services Coordinator Stephanie Fasnacht, from the Ephrata Police Department work with the Lancaster County Major Crimes Task Force," stated Police Chief William Harvey. "Recently, East Lampeter Police Department was investigating a homicide. These three, along with other county members, assisted in this investigation."

That work lead to an arrest in the case.

"It would be difficult for any small to medium size police department have the capability to handle large, complex investigations without support," Harvey continued. "The Lancaster County Major Crimes Task Force allows the expertise of the county’s law enforcement to work collectively towards success in solving crimes. This sharing also affords the members to gain more training, experience and develop expertise in their respective fields. As we in Ephrata have requested this unit and we also respond to assist the other departments when the need arises. This collective synergy of investigative greatness makes all of Lancaster county a safer and better place to live."

?Chief Harvey was himself recognized by council at Monday night’s meeting. Harvey was appointed the Borough’s Emergency Management Coordinator in November of 2011 by Governor Tom Corbett. This position now has new requirements placed on the EMC’s statewide from the Governor’s Office and PEMA. An EMC has to attend quarterly training and achieve certifications for three levels of expertise, in addition to their duties to their municipality. And while Chief Harvey was awarded the Basic Certification Monday night, he has also completed all of the training requirements for the Advanced and Professional levels. The borough is now awaiting "time in office waivers" in order for him to receive formal certification of the advanced levels.

Chief Harvey also serves as a member of the South Central Task Force Incident Management Team, which affords even more emergency management training and expertise.

"Most EMC’s are either volunteers or professionals," explained County Emergency Management Coordinator Randy Gockley, who was on hand for Monday night’s meeting. "They recently made it more difficult than in the past to meet the requirements. Bill slid right through the classes, some of which were online and some he had to attend. The borough of Ephrata can be proud."

For additional information on Ephrata Borough, visit Gary P. Klinger welcomes feedback via e-mail at More BOROUGH, page A6

About Ephrata Review