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.”

Sunday, November 26, 2017

About Town

 Something's been added at 301 Locust...

 ...a MonograM, one on each side of COLUMBIA.

Meanwhile, down at the bridge, foundation sleeves - four on each side of the plaza (north and south) - have been placed in preparation for flagpole installation.

According to the Community Development Committee, lighting will also be installed at the site. Memorial bricks will be sold over the winter, and brick paths will be laid in spring of 2018. Bricks will be $50 each, the cost of which will include an inscription honoring/memorializing a veteran. Landscaping will also be completed in the spring. A dedication ceremony is scheduled for Memorial Day 2018.

Heritage Drive just got a security fence, to the delight of cottage owners, because it makes their private tract even more of a cloistered community.

In fact, here's the bluebird of happiness sitting on the selfsame fence.

 Oversized bit ring on South 3rd

A different kind of pipeline project, ongoing for the past several weeks and causing traffic delays on Route 441 through Washington Borough.

 Stringing lights at Locust Street Park

 The tree lighting will be on Sunday, December 10.

 Auction at Hinkle's coming up 

 8 pumpkins on 4 steps

 Even the moose knows which way the wind blows in this town.

More inane graffiti - this time at the old chip factory

 Here's a closeup.

 Here are some golden icons at Burning Bridge Antiques.

 119 years young...

 Cortney Fry memorial at the Columbia Presbyterian Church

 Stringing lights on the other tree...

 ...over at Holy Trinity Church.

A long way up

Slab on the 400 block of Avenue G, still for sale - $124,900. It's all that's left of an apartment building that burned down in September 2015.


 Still not stitched.

 More from Morrow
(Metal sculpture by artist John Morrow)

 Down on the 300 block of Locust

 Watching over the town

 Another of Columbia's historic mansions - 855 Chestnut

 Missing sign, twisted signpost

 A furry fencepost?

 Nope, just an interloper at a game of hide & seek

 Bad connection at the Water Compnay

 Clear water alongshore

 A drawing of a moose wearing a blanket?

 Steel magnolias

 Crafted from teaspoons

 Bell tower at NAWCC

 Feral on the 400 block of Avenue I

 Juvenile red-tailed hawk

 Is that a game of tic-tac-toe forming in the sky?

 They're still there: unattended gas cans - not empty - on the 300 block of Avenue H.
What could go wrong?

 Snowflake but no lamp

Back in the day...

 Walking and...stalking?

 Go your own way...

There's usually a lot of air traffic over Columbia.

 Like the sign says...

 Cryptic message above Miles Bixler's office.
(26.2 miles is the distance of a marathon. Is someone telling us they participated?)

 Junk pulled from under the street on 7th

 Junk pulled from under the street on the 600 block of Maple

 A view downriver, with Lloyd Mifflin-like background

Holy Trinity Church

At the Hyperbaric Oxygenation Center on North 6th.
Don't even think of smoking here.


 Or break-out?

 The loose drawer is on this mausoleum at Laurel Hill Cemetery

 141 Walnut Street, currently borough-owned...

...but soon to be a parking lot.

And last but not least...

Things we wish we hadn't heard but were overheard from the booth next to us at Hinkle's restaurant recently:

"I don't know if they'd feel comfortable with her vibrations and vampirism."

"We had a great Thanksgiving: full of controversy, arguments, fighting."

"She went out with a guy and he wanted her to move in with him. On one date. He was 79."