Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Midweek Update - October 20, 2021

Recent photos of Columbia

(Click/tap on photos to see larger, sharper images.) 

Down in a hole at the former airport - 
Excavation for storage tanks began on Monday morning and was completed yesterday.

Here's the first one.

Two were excavated and taken away via flatbed on Tuesday.

ECS did one of the recent environmental studies of the property, and this guy was on-site during excavation.

At the conclusion of the operation, fill was placed in the hole and tamped down.
Mission accomplished


The pink hats were back at the Eberly Myers construction project at the bottom of Locust Street.

They wore pink hard hats in observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 

Here's their excavation project.

They said two water lines will be run to the site, one for fire emergency, one for domestic.


Columbia Borough Council is considering buying the former Visitors Center at 445 Linden Street. The current purchase price is listed as $150,000. Councilman Eric Kauffman proposed purchasing it at the bankruptcy rate or whatever is owed by the chamber, and allowing the Columbia Historic Society to operate it at their expense. "I believe that's a key piece of property for Columbia Borough," he said.

The site already has several signs explaining Columbia's history.

The clock stays.

So does the sign.


Is this the last Wednesday it will be open?
The Columbia Market House might be closing on Wednesdays, because, according to borough manager Mark Stivers, the numbers are low. Stivers said the issue will be discussed at the October 26 borough council meeting. Any such closing will require an action of borough council, because the borough's contract with CHI will need to be amended.

Down at Floyd's -
It's worse.

Nightmare on Front Street

Coming soon

Lines were finally painted on Linden Street this morning.

Here's a video of a contractor painting the lines.
[Video submitted by Howard Stevens]

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Deeds Recorded - Columbia Borough - October 15, 2021

Joanne M. Ott, Franklin Ott & Joanne M. Ott Revocable Living Trust, Franklin Ott, Frank Ott and Mark D. Ott A conveyed 537 Locust St. to John Ott for $130,000.

The estate of F. Michael Buggy, the estate of Francis Michael Buggy and Quarterphase Investments LLC conveyed property on North Third Street to QP Invest Real Estate Group LLC for $1.

John S. Ferrara conveyed property on South Fifth Street to Invest Pa 2020 LLC for $90,000.

Gerardo J. Ortiz, Latisha Crespo Ortiz, Latisha Crespo Ortiz and Marie Griselda Cespedes Mendez conveyed property on a public road to Maria Griselda Cespedes Mendez for $190,000.

Darlene Marie Brown and Darlene Marie Musser conveyed property on Lancaster Avenue to Lungelo Bechtel for $209,000.

Curtis L. Wilson and Wesley A. Guidry conveyed 145 S. Eighth St. to Kassandra B. Miller and Stacey Miller for $176,900.

Agenda - Columbia Borough Planning Commission Meeting - October 19, 2021

 The meeting packet is HERE.

Monday, October 18, 2021

A few takeaways from the October 14 Columbia Borough Council Budget Meeting

Columbia Borough Council Budget Meeting - October 14, 2021

Columbia Borough Council discussed budget line items and requests at its October 14, 2021 budget meeting. Following are summaries of some of the items discussed:

How many parking meters does Columbia have?
Columbia resident Frank Doutrich asked how many operating, in-service parking meters the borough has. Police Chief Jack Brommer said the number is "about 200."

The Market House might be closing on Wednesdays
The Columbia Market House might be closing on Wednesdays, because, according to borough manager Mark Stivers, the numbers are low. 

Stivers said the issue will be discussed at the October 26 borough council meeting. Any such closing will require an action of borough council, because the borough's contract with CHI will need to be amended, according to Stivers.

Where's the money for the Market House?
Columbia Borough has not yet received funds from the $1.75 million RACP grant that was awarded in 2019. The funds are for the recent improvements to the market house, and parking solutions. 

Since the RACP is a 1:1 matching grant, Columbia must pay $1.75 million towards the cost of the projects. (RACP stands for Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.)

Borough employees' time at the airport project will be tracked
Any work done by the borough's hourly employees at the former airport property on Manor Street will be tracked and added into the cost of the project. Council president Heather Zink said borough employees have spent very limited time there. At a previous meeting, she said no additional staff will be needed to maintain the property. 

An Emergency Alert System for Columbia?
Councilman Todd Burgard’s request was for an emergency alert system that would allow the borough to message cellphones, much like the current Amber Alert system does. He said the cost estimate is around $15,000. Stivers said that's the initial cost, and there will be additional costs after that. 

Bodycams for the police?
Body-worn cameras for the police department were discussed. A previous grant application for the cameras was denied.

A drone for the police department?
Council discussed the possibility of the police department acquiring a drone. Chief Brommer said that officer Brent Keyser recently completed a training program to become a drone pilot, the only one on the force. Columbia Borough purchased a drone several years ago for the codes department. Brommer estimated that the drone is 6-8 years old. He said newer drones can feature thermal ability that would help the police track a suspect at night. 

Councilman Eric Kauffman said, "My biggest concern with the drone is that it becomes a patrol officer.” Kauffman also said he doesn't think it would be used on a regular basis and that it's not an expense the borough should take on. (Ironically, a drone company will supposedly be setting up at the former airport property.)

$838 spent on business cards
Councilwoman Sharon Lintner questioned the recent $838 cost of business cards provided to council members and others. Stivers said the cost included graphic design and some other products. He said the cards are part of the borough's communication.

Additional surveillance cameras requested
Brommer is requesting $50,000 for two additional surveillance cameras: one at 4th & Cherry and another at 3rd & Union. The amount would also cover the cost of replacing outdated technology. Brommer said cameras were useful in identifying arson suspects in an incident at Columbia Crossing where youths lit a teddy bear on fire and caused damage inside the building. 

Problems at Makle Park
Council discussed problems at Makle Park. There have been numerous and ongoing complaints about trash and drug use at Makle Park. 

In apparent frustration, Councilman Todd Burgard said those living near the park should take care of it."That park isn't our park. It's not this council's park.” Burgard said. “That's that community's park. That's their park. At what point does that community stand up and say this is our park, we got to stop letting this happen in our space? What do we do to solve the problem, get the community to take care of their own problem? If the problem's coming out of the community, I think that probably the best solution is for the community, the solution, to come back out of that community. For us to go in there and enforce, it just doesn't feel good, doesn't look good, it doesn't make people happy, it doesn't give people any sense of responsibility. It's just the borough coming down on folks. How can we, how can we, without getting law enforcement involved, encourage people to take care of their own space?" 

 Kauffman noted that there were groups that go out and clean the park regularly. "There's groups that go out there and trash it regularly," Burgard responded. 

Problems have plagued the park for at least five years, according to the 2016 LNP article HERE, in which Mayor Lutz said, “I grew up in a park, and they never, ever looked like they do now. We don't want to bring people in from all over and see that,” he said of the trash. “It would be an embarrassment to the entire borough. We gotta do something.”

Columbia Borough to purchase the former Visitors Center?
Council discussed purchasing the former Visitors Center at 445 Linden Street. 

The current purchase price is listed as $150,000. Councilman Kauffman proposed purchasing it at the bankruptcy rate or whatever is owed by the chamber, and allowing the Columbia Historic Society to operate it at their expense. "I believe that's a key piece of property for Columbia Borough," Kauffman said.
Why do we have a street sweeper?
Zink said the street sweeper does not run as a money-making tool for the borough but rather as part of the borough's MS4 responsibility, that is, to help keep the pollutants out of the waterways. (According to the PA DEP website, "The MS4 program focuses on managing discharges into the waters of the Commonwealth by educating and implementing proper control measures and best management practices."  Stivers said, "The amount of trash and everything we picked up on a regular basis is shocking." Zink added, “And the amount of trash is why the street sweeper has issues.”



3 seats, 6 candidates

Becky Young (D)
Age: 51
Occupation: Program coordinator/grant writer

Robert Misciagna (D)
Age: 21
Occupation: Retail worker

Larry K. Laird (D)
Age: 80
Occupation: Business owner – Global Time Wizard

Peter Stahl (R)
Age: 29
Occupation: Mechanic

Todd Burgard (R)
Age: 56
Occupation: Marketing consultant

Barbara Fisher (R)
Age: 67
Occupation: Receptionist

INCUMBENTS: Stahl and Burgard

At the Library - Monday, October 18


UPDATE: MEETING IS CANCELED - Agenda - Columbia Borough Ad Hoc Committee Meeting - October 18, 2021


Leaf Pick-up begins Monday, October 18


Sunday, October 17, 2021

Weekend Wrap-Up - October 17, 2021

Recent photos of Columbia 

(Click/tap on photos to see larger, sharper images.)

Painting the District Administration Center
Replacing the spindles

Here are more spindles.

Using a leaf blower on the roof

It's the choice of professional roofers everywhere.

A scarecrow - in a cemetery?
(Mount Bethel)

123 North 5th Street - It's worse.
The Redevelopment Authority of the County of Lancaster condemned and acquired the property in 2019. Little or nothing has been to it done since.

Anyway, here's a doorknob.

Many hands make light work (but too many cooks spoil the soup).

At the apartment project (128 Locust Street)

The pink hats have arrived.

Must be a Monday.

About that Route 441 bypass that was supposed to direct trucks like this away from the downtown...?

Right next to the office of Dave Hickernell, who allegedly represents Columbia

Once again, the ADA access ramp was not made for this.

Under his 19-year reign, taxes have gone up and population has gone down. Recently, he actually said this:

Some private developers are investing in Columbia, said the borough’s mayor, Leo Lutz. They’re repurposing some former industrial buildings to add new higher-end rental units in the borough, catering to young adults and empty nesters who are able to afford rents that are more than $1,000 a month.

But that’s not enough to relieve the demand for housing, Lutz said. As a result, older and wealthier buyers are pricing young families out of the market in Columbia, he said.

“You have that young family (that says), ‘I don’t want an apartment, I don’t want a condo, I want a house – I like mowing the lawn, I like working on the house, sitting on the patio and entertaining guests. I can’t do that in Columbia, I can’t afford that in Columbia, so I’m going to move elsewhere,’” Lutz said.
[Source: lancasteronline]

Neighbors have noted that trash has been piling up for weeks at 647 Walnut Street, on the sidewalk and in the yard. Allegedly, the new owner of the multi-unit property failed to get a contract for a trash hauler. 

A neighborhood resident has informed Columbia Spy that borough officials were notified of the trash problem via email on September 17, 2021 - a month ago. In addition to the trash shown here, there are about 40 bags of trash in the backyard. The accumulating trash has now created a rodent problem. In a text message, the resident said, "The mice in this neighborhood are running rampant. Not to mention the smell coming from all the trash."  

According to the resident, code officers are aware of the problem - yet nothing has been done.
This surely constitutes a quality of life issue and a public health concern.
Borough, where are you?

She was there!

On Thursday evening, firefighters responded to the Boys & Girls Club for a report of a fire there.

Fortunately, no fire was detected.

Screenshot from the LCWC website

On Thursday, Columbia High students joined the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to collect samples and do water studies.


A questionable procedure by the water company

A Park Ranger cleans up along Front Street.

Backhoe ready to dig up underground tanks at the former airport, starting Monday morning

There's also a dump truck lurking there.


Ready for demo at the former Union Community Bank, 921 Lancaster Avenue - 
Columbia's getting a Majik appliance store.

The Market House will probably be closing on Wednesdays due to low numbers, according to Columbia Borough Manager Mark Stivers.

Lanternfly scanning for the survey of the Marietta River Trail & Local Business

Here are two of them out parading, possibly heading for the Marietta River Trail.

Trash behind CVS
It's supposed to go in the dumpster, not behind it.

Parallel routes?
Divided sky, divided town