Thursday, May 29, 2014

UPDATE: Columbia postpones vote on LASA wastewater offer

Columbia officials met twice this week — on Tuesday and Wednesday — but failed to call a vote on a proposal for the Lancaster Area Sewer Authority to take over the borough's wastewater treatment system.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A few thoughts about LASA

At last night's borough council meeting at Columbia No. 1 Fire Company, the issue of opting for Lancaster Area Sewer Authority (LASA) to handle borough sewer waste was discussed. Both sides were represented - with citizen comments evenly divided.
The LASA offer is appealing in several respects, in that some borough debt could be reduced, and the borough's responsibility for plant maintenance would be eliminated, but other aspects are troubling.
First, the borough will not have a seat on the LASA board without the unanimous vote of all seven municipalities. In essence, Columbia might not have a voice in the decisions affecting it. Also, the cost of representation is two million dollars, according to LASA executive director Mike Kyle. Such a sum would significantly reduce any potential cost savings from the deal.
Second, current borough sewer employees will not be guaranteed a job with LASA. Simply put, workers will lose their jobs.
Third, there are no real guarantees that opting for LASA will be a better deal in the long run for Columbia than if we keep and maintain the system we have.
At this point, LASA seems to be dictating all the terms. At the very least, the borough should demand some sort of representation on the board, as well as continued employment for the handful of current employees.
David Bush, who was hired by the borough to look at the figures, said costs would increase to a lesser degree under the LASA option due to economies of scale. He said, "The offer made by LASA is very fair."
Councilwoman Mary Barninger asked Mike Kyle what was in it for LASA. He replied that having more customers to share costs would help maintain stable rates and mitigate future rate increases.
Committee member Norm Meiskey said that even with upgrades to the current plant, it still would not continue to be in compliance. He said that if we go with LASA, the borough could get out of debt.
"Not to do it is a travesty," he added.
Mayor Leo Lutz said he had spoken to an employee of the plant who said the upgrades would keep us in compliance and wonders about the "not in compliance" comment.

Some other considerations:
* If Columbia keeps the plant, it will need to be continually maintained and upgraded.
* LASA doesn't handle storm water, which, according to the mayor, will be an issue in the future.
* It's not clear whether LASA's offer is "once and done" or if it will be offered again in the future if the borough does not opt for it this time.
* It was made clear, however, that a decision to go with LASA, once made, is irrevocable.
If regionalization is the wave of the future, then Columbia needs to get on board and accept LASA's offer. If, however, the financial benefits of doing so do not significantly outweigh the liabilities, we should hold on to the assets we already have. Since we cannot accurately project what our actions will engender in a generation or two, the decision is a difficult one that will ultimately have profound and far-reaching consequences for Columbia Borough.

In Columbia, no vote yet on wastewater plan; council meets again Wednesday evening


The probable cause of the fly infestation

Shown below are several photos of piles of chicken manure seen at McGinness's field (also known as McGinness Airport, according to Google Maps) on April 25, 2014.
The original blog post is HERE.

WGAL's follow-up is HERE.

LASA offers to buy Columbia sewer system in $22.5 million deal

The Lancaster Area Sewer Authority is offering $8.6 million to purchase Columbia's wastewater assets and take over its management.
If the offer is accepted, according to documents, LASA would also assume responsibility for the principal and interest owed on a bond that was taken out in 2010.  That responsibility would begin at the time the deal is finalized and continue through 2020. This would save the borough $4.27 million in payments.

Fly infestation prompts moving tonight's Columbia council meeting

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Important Notice - Time and Location Change for Tonight's Meeting

Due to the fly infestation issue caused by agricultural activities at the McGinness Property, the Joint Borough Council/Municipal Authority meeting scheduled for Tuesday, May 27, 2014 at 6:00 pm is being moved to a new location and time.  The meeting will be held at the Columbia No. 1 Fire Department at 137 South Front Street at 6:30 pm on Tuesday May 27, 2014. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Columbia resident: “We’re not making shoo-fly pie with [flies]." recently ran a report that serves as a follow-up my post about piles of chicken manure at McGinness's field HERE.
Large numbers of flies that have propagated in the manure have become a nuisance to neighbors.

Susquehanna Bank Columbia branch renovation

Susquehanna Bank recently held a rededication ceremony at its Columbia branch, where it completed a $250,000 reconstruction project to the interior of the 104-year-old bank building in the downtown business district.
The project began in June 2013 and concluded in October 2013.
The rededication ceremony was held on Friday May 9 to celebrate the grand reopening of the facility. The construction project was designed to improve the energy and employee efficiency of the branch.
Susquehanna Bank said the project also demonstrates its commitment to be part of the downtown area of Columbia on Locust Street, and further assists in the ongoing improvements of the borough.

Discover the magic of time

In an age of answers, the National Watch & Clock Museum, 514 Poplar St., Columbia, is celebrating the excitement of a little mystery. The museum's newest exhibit, "The Magic of Mystery Clocks," is now open and will run through December.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Even more bridge work

A worker drills into the top of a pier on the Veterans Memorial Bridge to prepare for the installation of a new bridge light.

Putting it in place

Six local organizations get grants for Susquehanna Riverlands development

The Lancaster County Conservancy with funding assistance from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources awarded $72,125 in grant funds to:

--Borough of Columbia, $25,000. Funding will be used to determine the best uses and develop a maintenance/operation plan for the soon to be completed Trail and Park Services Building at the borough's River Park.  The grant will also provide funding for the purchase of furniture and interpretive displays.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Federal government orders railroads to alert Lancaster County of trains carrying flammable crude oil

Norfolk Southern has been transporting up to mile-long Bakken crude oil trains along the Susquehanna River through Lancaster County on the Port Road, passing through river towns such as Columbia and Marietta. The trains continue through southern Lancaster County en route to the Delaware City Refinery in Delaware. On return trips, the tank cars are empty.
Norfolk Southern had refused to acknowledge that oil trains were passing through Lancaster County, citing security reasons, until Lancaster Newspapers ran a video of a mile-long train passing through Manor Township.

More photos of the bridge light takedown


Crews removed about a dozen of the old pole lights on the Veterans Memorial Bridge this afternoon.  According to one of the workers at the scene, a new light will be installed wherever an old one has been removed.

 Using a circular saw to cut the base

Handling the cut-off pole

Seen this morning

Near Burger King at Routes 30 and 441.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Wind Turbine Tour

From yesterday's wind turbine tour at Turkey Point . . . 

What's up at Laurel Hill?

Several brass vases are missing at Laurel Hill Cemetery.  Is it still due to last month's debacle or are they being stolen by persons unknown?

What I saw recently

Some pics from around town over the last few days . . .

 Recent additions at the Catholic War Vets

 An old-timey sleigh of some sort at Toll Booth

 Several engines linked 

 Skateboarder at River Park.
Maybe he didn't see the sign.

Oh, there it is - right in front of him.

 Can anyone ID this type of plane?

 It flew low over the area on Friday afternoon.

 It's obviously a kind of cargo transport.

 Possibly, a C-130 something or other?

 Lots o' nuts 'round here

 Well, what the hell?
Part of a broken banister or headboard, left lying there.
Where did it come from?

 Why walk on the sidewalk when you have that whole street right there?

 Recent heavy rains have lifted the docks at River Park.
The sign says: ADA ACCESSIBLE PIER.  Somehow, I don't think so.
It also says: NO SWIMMING. Well, how else are you supposed to get out there?

 Another dock

A different view of the same

 Out for a swim

 Working at cross purposes?
Each has a priority: getting the story - and getting the selfie.

 An old-style street lamp outside Andy's Market.

There's a "C" on the base, presumably for "Columbia."