Sunday, May 31, 2015
Saturday, May 30, 2015
Friday, May 29, 2015
Construction of a 6½-foot dam across the Susquehanna at Columbia in 1839 led to the most vicious of our local shad wars. The water held back by the dam was channeled into the Pennsylvania Canal paralleling the river.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
On May 27, 2015, the Columbia Borough and Municipal Authority sold the sewer collection system in the Borough to Lancaster Area Sewer Authority (LASA). LASA is now responsible for operations and maintenance of the sewer collection system.
LASA is a regional sewer authority that provides sewer service to 33,000 customers in the townships of East Hempfield, West Hempfield, Lancaster, Manor, and Manheim and the boroughs of East Petersburg and Mountville. For more information about LASA, visit their website at www.lasa.org.
Sewer Problems or Emergencies
To report a problem or emergency with your sewer service, contact LASA at the following numbers:
Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 4:30 pm – Call 717-299-4843, select Option 3
Evenings, Weekends, and Holidays – Call 717-396-9619 (24 hour Call Center)
You will receive one final sewer bill in mid-June from Columbia for sewer service through the end of May. After that, you will receive your sewer bills from LASA. LASA's billing process differs from Columbia's, so a transition time is required.
Residential and Public customers – For residential and public customers (municipal / church / firehouse / post office), LASA charges a fixed (of flat) amount per quarter for each dwelling unit, regardless of water usage. Each quarterly bill is mailed at the beginning of the quarter in January, April, July, and October. During the transition time, LASA will bill on the following schedule:
Bill Date Period Covered
August 1, 2015 June and July
September 1, 2015 August and September
November 1, 2015 October, November, and December
January 1, 2016 January, February, and March
Quarterly thereafter for each upcoming quarter
Commercial/Industrial Customers – For commercial and industrial customers, LASA bills quarterly based on water consumption. Each quarterly bill is mailed at the end of the quarter in January, April, July, and October. During the transition time, LASA will bill on the following schedule:
Bill Date Period Covered
October 1, 2015 June, July, August, and September
January 1, 2016 October, November, and December
Quarterly thereafter for each prior quarter
LASA will be communicating directly to you before their first billing in August to provide additional details about the billing transition. For more details about LASA and their purchase of the Columbia sewer collection system, visit their website atwww.lasa.org.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
"If the borough's going to spend close to a million dollars on helping one business developer create 135 jobs, I would think you could probably give about 20 businesses - mine included - in Columbia a couple thousand dollars to have an extra employee or two or five," he said.
He questioned the wisdom of taking away most of the available downtown parking that other businesses now rely on, including the Market House and Kettle Works. The call center would require parking Monday through Friday 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. He noted that the River Park will be used every day (when the trail is completed and Columbia Crossing is in operation).
He said the borough should pay off the fire company's debt and own the current Columbia #1 building, with the possibility of using it to house the police force and borough offices and convert the existing borough hall back to businesses, since it is in the business district.
"If you're going to own the building, why give it away to be developed?" he asked. "In five years he (IBS President William Roberts) will own everything, and something else could go there, and he's going to make all the profit from it."
Mr. Berntheizel also cited the recent charrette in which "disconnects" were discussed. He said huge business disconnects currently exist from the 200 block to the 400 block of Locust Street.
Councillor Barry Ford said there's a residency requirement to work at the building. Employees must live in Lancaster County. Fourteen jobs will be coming from the Lancaster County office with the remainder being "new." He said a source told him that the starting salary would be about $42K per year. He agreed that parking would be an issue. He also said that East Petersburg is being heavily favored for the call center at this time, according to his source.
Resident Elaine Beckley questioned the large expenditure for the call center when council squabbled over the cost of a new police car recently.
"I don't understand how you can argue that point and then turn around and give away $900,000," she said. "People are losing their homes, because they can't afford to pay the taxes." She cited other businesses that have been successful in the borough without receiving public funds. "I didn't think our money was to prop up a business."
Resident Frank Doutrich asked what council got in writing about number of jobs and salaries. Councillor Jim Smith replied that salaries were not mentioned in the proposal. (At the May 18 special council meeting at Columbia Crossing, realtor Jeff Seibert said entry level salaries would be $50K per year.) Smith said that according to his own research, entry level salaries are $30-35K per year.
Resident Don Haines told council that he works in civil service, and to his knowledge, entry level jobs start at a low salary. He also said that a government agency will sometimes hire from a temp agency and pay employees $10 an hour.
"It's just too much uncertainty," he said.
Mr. Berntheizel added that a million dollars invested in the downtown would be better spent. He also noted, "You're agreeing to a plan that doesn't even have planning or zoning approval."
(It was reported that council subsequently passed a motion not to allow the use of municipal parking for call center employees.)
A second summary of the highlights of the May 26 Meeting of the Whole:
Chiques Rock Outfitters
Jim Cox, proprietor of Chiques Rock Outfitters, asked to install a bait vending machine at River Park. Councillor Barry Ford read him a lengthy statement from the borough's solicitor detailing stipulation for such a venture. In summary, the project must be bid out.
Columbia Kettle Works
Bill Collister, Columbia Kettle Works proprietor, asked council for a variance to allow sidewalk tables and seating outside his establishment on Third Street. He stated that his enterprise has succeeded in bringing people into town and that his customer base is fairly well-off. He also stated that his business is more of an attraction than a bar and closes by 10 p.m. Council informed him that such seating must be at least 20 feet from any adjacent street (for example, Walnut Street or Avenue H) and that a number of parking spaces versus seats must be provided, according to ordinance. Councillor Ford said he would talk to Zoning and Planning Officer Jeff Helm about the issue.
Councillor Barry Ford discussed a requirement for registration/inspection for vehicles to park on borough streets. After a brief discussion, he expressed his displeasure with the codes department citing people for backyard basketball nets.
"We've got bigger fish to fry in Columbia," he said. "We want people to be out playing."
Ford also expressed concern over the so-called "bomb trains," trains hauling a large number of oil-carrying cars. He stated his wish to send a letter to Senator Bob Casey supporting his efforts to address train safety, since trains run through the borough on a regular basis. Mayor Leo Lutz added that the issue relates to Homeland Security.
Jerry Hawn, who owns a property on the 500 block of Walnut Street, addressed council about the sewage problem he has dealt with since January. He had addressed council about this issue at a previous meeting. Although the situation has since been resolved, Mr. Hawn expressed concern over the lack of response from the codes department, citing specific phone calls that were not returned. He presented photographs of his basement with a significant amount of sewer water on the floor. He also stood a five-gallon bucket on the floor before councillors and asked what would happen if he spilled the contents. Council stated that he would have to clean it up, and then he asked, "What happens if I don't?" He said that codes cited his son for a butterfly bush growing out of concrete, but would not condemn a house with a sewer water leak.
Interim Borough Manager Ron Miller and council remained steadfast that it is not the borough's problem; he was told to file a civil lawsuit. Mr. Hawn tried pointing out that the codes department bears some responsibility in their failure to act.
Bidding would not be required (as was the case with Daisy Pagan's previous offer to operate the building), because the foundation would be offering a professional service. Resident Frank Doutrich later asked council if they were aware that the operating expense is projected to be $150,000 per year, and council answered in the affirmative.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
The Columbia Borough Parks and Recreation Commission will be providing a summer playground program for children entering 2nd grade through 6thgrade. The playground program will be located at Rotary Park and Makle Park starting June 15, 2015 through July 24, 2015. The hours for the playground program will be 9:30 AM until 12:00 noon Monday through Friday.
There will be various sports related activities such as basketball, softball, soccer, football, kick ball, jump rope, whiffle ball, horse shoes, quoits and various board games.
Parents will need to complete a registration and waiver form in order for their child/children to participate. In addition, parents, babysitters, or guardians are responsible to pick up their child/children each day.
In case of inclement weather, the playground will be cancelled for that day.
There is no cost to participate in this program. Open the following link to fill out the Registration form. Preregistration forms can be dropped off at the Columbia Borough Office located at 308 Locust Street, Columbia, Pennsylvania on or before June 8, 2015.
Registration, waiver and Release Form for Summer Program