Water, sewer projects are on tap in 2006

January 12, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WILLIAMSPORT - An overhaul of Williamsport's aging water and sewer systems is a top priority for 2006, Mayor James G. McCleaf II said.

McCleaf said it's too soon for a firm estimate of the cost, but it's expected to be millions of dollars. Town officials have talked to a consultant about helping them find loans and grants for the project, he said.

Councilman Jeff Cline said pipes that are more than 40 years old are rusty and corroding. "This will be a major undertaking," he said.


"It will cost a great deal to get pumping stations up to date ...," said Councilman Earle R. Pereschuk Sr., who oversees the town's water and sewer department. "It's finally catching up to us."

The town, which contracts for sewer service with Washington County, has four pumping stations, McCleaf said.

Three feed the main one, which is off Lockwood Road, near Allegheny Energy's R. Paul Smith station, he said.

Williamsport buys its municipal water from the City of Hagerstown.

McCleaf said a study will be done before the town decides the scope of the work, which will focus more on the sewer system.

Pereschuk said he also wants the town to consider changing its water and sewer rates so out-of-town customers shoulder more of the burden than they do now.

Cline, who oversees the town's parks department, said the town hopes to obtain three grants connected to parks and recreation.

The town has asked for $87,000 from Maryland's Program Open Space to continue improving the road around the Little League field. Washington County is administering Program Open Space money locally.

The town also has asked for $100,000 through Program Open Space to make changes to pavilion 2 at Byron Memorial Park.

A third grant request, for $60,000, was to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The town wants to build a three-part playground set, Cline said.

Cline said the town plans to build upon its Fourth of July festivities. He previously has said there might be a 5-kilometer race, a pancake breakfast, a trolley, a celebrity dunking booth and a parade.

The town wants to have more events this year for children, McCleaf said. One possibility is a kite-flying contest.

Money matters

McCleaf said the town's finances, a major concern in 2005, might be straightened out this year.

After reviewing past years' books, Teti & Carswell, the town's accounting firm, is expected to have a report on fiscal year 2005 in time for the February council meeting, according to McCleaf.

Williamsport also might hire a town clerk in the next month or two, he said.

The town has been without a clerk since August, when the town council unanimously voted to dismiss Bonnie J. Errico from the job.

The town is continuing to pay Donna K. Spickler for her help, McCleaf said.

Spickler served 21 years as Williamsport's clerk until resigning in June 2002 to become Hagerstown's city clerk.

On the list

Assistant Mayor Monty R. Jones said two things are at the top of his list for 2006.

The first is appropriate recognition of the 30th anniversary of C&O Canal Days, a popular festival at Byron Memorial Park. The town has pledged to cover some costs of this year's event.

The second is a permit parking system. Residents who have parking meters in front of their homes would get one free permit to park there. A second pass would cost $50 per year.

Jones said the permit system might start in March.

Councilwoman Gloria J. Bitner said she wants the town to figure out the best use for a farmhouse it owns in Springfield Lane.

Members of the town museum have proposed turning it into an educational museum on life around the time of the Civil War.

Patricia France lived in the house rent-free for four years before moving out in September. Her final weeks there were contentious, as the town got a district judge to force her to honor her pledge to move out.

In an e-mail response, Councilman James C. Kalbfleisch, who oversees the town's electricity department, said one of his three goals for 2006 - a new electricity contract - already was accomplished.

The other two are: uninterrupted service and finishing an electricity system upgrade when money is available.

Councilman Nelson F. Deal, who oversees the operation of the Byron Memorial Park pool, said the town will make the pool available for party rentals five days a week this year instead of two.

Also, evening swims on Wednesdays probably will run until at least 8 p.m. instead of 6 p.m., Deal said.

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