Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Did Heritage Drive become a $40,000 gift to cottage owners?

River cottage owners will be the main beneficiaries of the latest phase of the ongoing Heritage Drive project that aims to extend and expand improvements at Columbia River Park.  Cottages within the riverfront tract will become even more of a cloistered community when all upgrades are complete.

A security fence was recently installed on the boundary between Heritage Drive and the private tract that contains 33 individual properties.  In addition, new trees are being planted behind the fence - on private property - for privacy and beautification. The cost: $40,000 and change. Although the project is being funded by a municipal bond, it will be up to borough taxpayers to foot the bill when it comes due.

Shown above: recently installed security fence along Heritage Drive.  The cottage owners' tract is shown behind the fence.


At the November public works committee meeting, officials said the improvements were needed for privacy and aesthetics, and to resolve trespassing issues. Public Works Director Ron Miller said cottage owners told him that, due to the increased number of visitors to Columbia River Park, people are entering Riverfront Drive, a private road that runs through the tract. He said the new fence was a way to make a boundary. Mayor Leo Lutz added that the fence will also prevent encroachment on Heritage Drive by the cottage owners. “By putting the fence there, that's stopping that encroachment,” he said.

“They [cottage owners] thought they needed a fence for some privacy or some delineation between the property and the park,” Miller said. A slightly more expensive fence was preferred over a plain chain link fence for consistency. “I thought it would be pretty ugly to put a chain link fence along there, so we matched up what we had at the parking lot [at the bottom of Locust Street]," Miller said. "It's the same exact fence.” Miller said he decided on the security fence due to the minimal cost difference. The borough paid about $32,000 for the fence, according to Miller. The borough will be responsible for maintaining the fence.

Miller said the original plan for a fence on the boundary between Heritage Drive and the railroad tracks was nixed because Norfolk Southern, which owns the railroad, didn't want a fence that was only 25 feet from the center line of the tracks. Consequently, the fence was moved to other side of the road, toward the cottages. “I talked with the homeowners down there and the people - they thought it would be great to put it on that side,” Miller said. He added that Norfolk Southern plans to put "riprap" along the bank on the railroad side of Heritage Drive. (Riprap consists of rocks and chunks of concrete used to stabilize sloped areas and prevent erosion.) Officials are pleased that the borough and the railroad have been able to reach common ground on several projects, including this one. “Norfolk Southern is happy with the relationship we now are developing,” Lutz said.

Some of the 52 trees ordered for the project.


The borough also ordered 52 trees for the project - at a cost of $8,200. The trees, intended to increase privacy at the tract, are being planted "behind" the security fence, on private property, to replace old trees that were removed during roadway construction. “It's part of what we tore up," Miller said. "It's part of taking the old trees down and opening that roadway up.” Miller said restoration on private property can include trees. Many of the old trees that were removed were on public property where cottage owners had encroached. (Some of the new trees are also being planted elsewhere around the borough.)


A few trees planted on private property


Initial talks for the project began about a year ago, according to Miller. He said he held three night meetings with cottage owners at borough hall prior to starting the project. “We've been in constant communication since day one,” he said.

Final details for Heritage Drive include signage and "fairly extensive" rain gardens near the parking area between Locust and Walnut Streets. Miller said environmental agencies DEP and DCNR give points for such projects. “We tried to do as much as we could with the money we had in the budget. We're still under budget for that project, because we did 99% of it ourselves,” Miller said.

In 2010, cottage owners banded together to form the Columbia Heritage River Cottage Association, Inc., whose profile is HERE.  Riverfront Drive is a privately owned and maintained "common area" of the Association.

As shown above, the tract owned by the Columbia Heritage Cottage Owners Association is bounded by Heritage Drive (in green), Locust Street extended (yellow), Union Street (orange), and the Susquehanna River.  Railroad tracks are shown in purple.


Although the cottage owners' private tract claims a portion of shoreline, everyone can still access the river in that area via Union Street on the south side of the tract, and Locust Street extended on the north. There is also a public boat ramp at the bottom of Union. Even though a fence was erected on Locust Street extended, the property is owned by the borough and is considered public. “We didn't want to open that street up the whole way," Miller said. "It's no need to.” He said borough workers keep the property as a stormwater right-of-way and use it to do storm drain outfall cleanouts. “I see no reason to open it unless council directs me to,” Miller said. “It is ours if we so choose to open it and pave it.”





48 comments:

  1. Yes, it is for their benefit, because the trail parking will remain up near the water company area, not down along Heritage Drive where the cottages are located.

    Most visitors to the trail go in AND out using the area closest to the park, not the Union Street access.

    No one seems to use the public boat ramp at the bottom of Union Street either so the only people benefiting from the paving, fence, and trees are the cottage owners. So, Cole, you need to add the cost of paving onto the $40,000.

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  2. The cottage owners pay taxes so they are also.paying for the improvements so why are you.alwsys having something negative to say about the cottage owners

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    1. I pay taxes too! Where are MY improvements?

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  3. Another waste of taxpayers money for the Chosen Few!

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. What happened to Stephanie's remarks? She was a past Councilwoman and attended the meetings with Ron Miller? One must think her comments either put to rest, totally refuted or set straight the ridiculous accusations and insinuations of what the true story is regarding Heritage Drive. I'm sure her comments weren't as seedy and in keeping with bashing the cottage owners as the author intended when he wrote this piecs.

      I to was at all the meetings, at the REQUEST of Ron Miller, in which numerous times cottage owners voiced their disapproval or resistance to doing ANY work to Heritage Drive by asking....
      "why can't the Boro leave the road alone and do nothing..."
      "why can't the Boro just re-grade and re-stone..."
      "what is the end game..."
      "why doesn't the Boro use the monies toward other much needed areas..."
      Cottage owners were simply told that the 1)Boro is responsible for the upkeep of the Norfolk Southern access road, 2)Boro hopes to extend the Trail along 441 to Turkey Hill Point and connect with the Enola Low Grade Trail, 3)it will make for more tax revenue through the liquid fuels tax rebate program

      After much discussion, Ron Miller simply stated that the road is getting improved whether the Cottage owners approve or like it. The Boro owns the property and chose to do the work, NOT the cottage owners.

      The true resounding true fact is that the BORO, NOT the cottage owners did this. The BORO owns the road and can do whatever they want with it, as in ANY other BORO road. I do not understand why the emphasis is trying to make the cottage owners out to being the criminals here, when in reality(as others have stated) it's the elected public officials allocating Boro money and resources to the wrong areas. Plenty of areas that money and resources could have been used for other than "the road to know where".

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    2. Stephanie Weisser deleted her comment. As for the reason, you'll have to ask her.

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    3. Cottage owners didn't want the improvements? Sounds like they asked for them - unless someone is being disingenuous:

      Public Works Director Ron Miller said cottage owners told him that, due to the increased number of visitors to Columbia River Park, people are entering Riverfront Drive, a private road that runs through the tract.
      ...

      “They [cottage owners] thought they needed a fence for some privacy or some delineation between the property and the park,” Miller said.
      ...
      Consequently, the fence was moved to other side of the road, toward the cottages. “I talked with the homeowners down there and the people - they thought it would be great to put it on that side,” Miller said. 

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  5. there a several people who use the boat ramp at union st. and they respectfully park their trailers and trucks on the other side of the tracks. although twice cottage owners have come over to tell me it was a private ramp.

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    1. The owners are incorrect. It is public. GIS clearly shows it as such. Go here:
      https://co.lancaster.pa.us/143/GIS-Division
      Scroll part way down the page and click on: StartLanCo View
      Keep enlarging and moving the map until you find where Union Street meets the river.

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  6. Why the hell did the boro buy 52 trees! Are we going in to the tree business???

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    1. The Boro buys trees every year. It is part of keeping Tree City USA status. The majority are planted throughout the Boro, not along Heritage Drive.

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  7. Many cottage owners have had their cottages since the 70s. When the opportunity came that we could purchase the land we did... the land wasn't given to us. As for the fence and paving it wasn't for the benefit of the cottage owners!!!!!!! It was the borough that did that...

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  8. You people who are always having something to say about the cottage owners there is a cottage for sale and it has been for sale for over a year now why don't you buy it all the people who own cottages down there paid for the land their cottages are on they did not.get it for free

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    1. Certainly did not get the properties for market value either!

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  9. I don't think it's the cottage owners that are being made out to be the "bad guys" it's the borough officials making decisions like this with tax payer money.

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    1. I would like to agree, but it never seems like the intention when peices like this are written

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    2. Pieces like this are written as informative, so the residents can understand just what is happening in this town and how our tax dollars are being misspent.

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  10. My guess at what's next.... would be free sewer installation and free connections for the cottage owners.

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  11. I own one of these cottages, i would like the borough to please put up no parking signs at the berm of my new fence!! I do not want any people parking there! Also i would like a trash bin maybe a metal one so people that walk can throw away their trash properly!!!

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    1. Buy your own trash can!!! You are ridiculous!!

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    2. I agree, buy your own. Hopefully this was mere sarcasm

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  12. Columbia Borough sold the best land in all of Lancaster County for peanuts - so why stop now ? They might as well keep putting icing on the cake. It is a crying shame that they didn't just give the cottage owners life time leases and phase the prime riverfront land into something that would benefit the future generations of residents and taxpayers, but who care's about the future when you're a good old boy !

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  13. Go buy a cottage then Cole. More crying going on here than the first day of kindergarten.

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    1. Of course that's your answer to concerned citizens! The river area will never produce traffic in the town because of all the residents and that UGLY storage facility!! How did that even get approved in the historic district!!!

      None of the Turkey Hill Experience visitors are going to venture further into a town with nothing to offer other than a two bars and 100 antique stores! So yes, citizens have a RIGHT to know how the money is being wasted!! I mean WASTED!@!!

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  14. Corrupt school board and borough council. This stuff use to upset me. I attended meetings and was told I cant ask questions, so basically shut up and keep paying your taxes is what I thought their message was to me. So I sold my house. Got the hell out of the town that is run by approximately two dozen people who have their own agenda or the interest of the very wealthy who must feel good to live among the middle class people. So now I read Cole and Brian's blogs for entertainment. What is sad is the few business that I no longer patronize like Stover's, Hinkle's, Little's Beverage, Union Station, Joes Steakhouse, Dietz Café, Frickies Hardware, and Black Olive. Don't get me wrong, I miss the good people of Columbia, but I refuse to give my earned money to the local corrupt government. Until the law or state officials decide to intervene the town where my family resided since 1850's will continue to burn out and fade away.

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  15. Some people have owned those cottages for fifty years or more and there was not all that fuss leave the cottage owners alone and they paid what the bourgh ask for that is not the fault of the owners time to get on with something else what about all the crime in town the trash all over town all the rentals in town the schools all the fights at the high school all the buildings that tbe bourgh keeps buying so we know lnoger get tax money from them so there are so many other problems to worry about and it is not those 32 cottages

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    1. We've reported on many of these issues.

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    2. Yes and most of us appreciate your work Cole! Thank you!

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  16. The borough is wasting your money, people. Does anyone even care? 40 thousand dollars for a fence a nd trees? Give me a break!

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  17. The cottage owners did not ask for the fence or the trees don't we have anything better to talk about this is getting old what is done is done

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    1. 100% CORRECT and FACTUAL!!!!!!

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    2. Cottage owners didn't ask for the fence or the trees? Sounds like they did, unless someone is not being above board:
      Public Works Director Ron Miller said cottage owners told him that, due to the increased number of visitors to Columbia River Park, people are entering Riverfront Drive, a private road that runs through the tract.
      ...

      “They [cottage owners] thought they needed a fence for some privacy or some delineation between the property and the park,” Miller said.
      ...
      Consequently, the fence was moved to other side of the road, toward the cottages. “I talked with the homeowners down there and the people - they thought it would be great to put it on that side,” Miller said.

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  18. doesn't the mayor and some other councel people along with other borough emploees own cottages. there you go use tax payers money

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  19. first of all, educate yourself. this is hardly the whole story.

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  20. Whst is the whole story i would like to hear it

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  21. YOU KNOW I THINK THIS PAGE IS A JOKE!!!!!!!!! WITH PEOPLE COMMENT. JUST WAIT THEIR WILL BE WORK DONE ON SOME OF THE HOME OWNER PROPERTY ON SOUTH 2ND STREET NEXT YEAR . SEE WHAT THE MAYOR OF THE BLOCK HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THAT.

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    1. Hopefully the "work on South Second" you speak of is tearing additions that are shacks down. Perhaps closing Ave J to vehicle traffic so the remainder of the Historic Carriage Way is preserved.
      And of course remember improvements must be approved by HARB.
      Seems your interested enough to read the Spy, maybe your the joke.

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  22. tell us the whole story

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  23. do your own homework. all this belly aching is for nill...

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  24. The "WHOLE STORY" is sooo... simple - The story is that this Borough, this wonderful Borough of Columbia PA, yes, Columbia, PA 17512 , is a very very special place !! , and as a matter of FACT , it is sooo special ....., that for whatever reason right or wrong, this little town of Columbia is recognized by various LANCASTER COUNTY and PENNSYLVANIA STATE organizations, both governmental, and affiliated non profit organizations, as being a town worthy of the full attention and support of the "HIGHER POWERS" .... and, ...no doubt --- some of the reasons that COLUMBIA PA 17512 has gain ed this favorable status among-st the larger "Powers That Be" is LOCATION , HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE, POLITICAL INROADS, -----ETC. ETC., but .... for whatever reason ...., the FACT IS, COLUMBIA PA 17512 HAS CLOUT ! ---- on a LOCAL LEVEL, on a PA STATE LEVEL, and even a NATIONAL LEVEL ! ..., and here is the bottom line - like it or not like what you got ! , the bottom line is that WHOM EVER is in power in this town, WHOM EVER is the MAYOR.... WHOM EVER controls Borough COUNCIL - THEY AND ONLY THEY are the ones in FULL CONTROL !! - and you my friend - and Me ..., we can "belly ache" all we want - and we can point out all of the corruptions - and we can find all of the flaws - but IT JUST DOESN'T MAKE A DIFFERENCE !!.... none of it matters - and you are wasting your time !! - ....,and if you are not willing to RUN FOR POLITICS , if you are not willing to CAMPAIGN ...., if you are not willing to "TAKE CONTROL" of the situation .... you voice is only "dust in the wind", and you are wasting your time looking at this web site, and wasting your time even thinking about this God Forsaken Town ! You might as well go home and spend time with your own Family ! , and just Forget about Columbia PA 17512 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-Lrmd8YhgA

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  25. It is because we all stood by silent and indifferent !!

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  26. A perfect example of what happens to the resistance movement in towns like Columbia. Basically, if you don't think you can beat them, just do what Cole does and join them.

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    1. What? This makes no sense to me, Cole joined them? I missed something and I read this site on a fairly regular basis.

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  27. Cole, whats going on with the Market House?I thought I understood that it was being closed and that there were some sort of studies or group sessions planned for ideas or future uses? Now I read on News and Reviews that the Borough has posted an application for a lease? Did I miss something? Has a decision been made to just lease it as open space to whomever chooses....office supplies,contractor, restaurant,art gallery, medical offices, antiques, jewelery, etc. I think i missed something. Where was the planning and creative group at?

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  28. it's time for action - the planning groups and creative groups all failed

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  29. Everyone complains about all of the antique shops in Columbia, yet I noticed that last weekend Burning Bridge Antiques parking lot was jammed full, as it usually is, and same thing at Toll Booth Antiques. It's simple: They have what people want to see, too bad the Market House doesn't. The patrons of these businesses are so close to the Market House, yet they will not go there, it's not what they are looking for. The market must evolve. I also overheard a Columbia businessman at the bank telling an employee that this is a "Ghost Town" after dark. This gives criminal activity a breeding ground.

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