State offers Penn Township $1.4 million to control flooding |
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Joe Napsha

Penn Township has a $1.45 million loan offer on the table to reduce flooding in the Harrison Park and Hyland Road areas. Officials have yet to decide if they want it.

Township leaders have roughly six months to decide whether they want to accept the loan, township manager Alex Graziani told the commissioners . If they take the money, a Growing Greener grant would provide about $70,000 in construction costs.

The Harrison Park project proposes building a retention pond across Berlin Road from Damian Court and adding drainage swales along farm fields to minimize runoff and capture sediment-laden water that flows onto Martha Avenue, Linda Court and Damian Court properties. The project would channel the water from the retention pond to an unnamed Bushy Run tributary, according to the loan application.

Based on an EADS Engineering Group study of the Bushy Run watershed, a large volume of the stormwater flows from property the state owns adjacent to the Bushy Run Battlefield.

Commissioners need to decide whether to spend an estimated $600,000 to replace three pipes under Hyland Road to alleviate flooding in the Chris Road, Concord Road and Waugaman Drive areas. To replace those culverts to control stormwater, however, Penn Township would have to take ownership of Hyland Road from PennDOT and maintain the road, said Donald Black, EADS engineer. PennDOT would pay the township if it assumes ownership of the road, Black said.

As an alternative, the township could try to convince PennDOT to replace the culverts, but there is no incentive for the state to do that, Graziani said. Commissioners said they would ask State Rep. George Dunbar, R-Penn Township, for assistance in getting PennDOT to do that work.

Commissioner Jeff Shula said he was not interested in taking ownership of Hyland Road and assuming maintenance costs.

If the stormwater control projects are funded, construction could begin in January and be completed by July 2020.

If the runoff problem from Hyland Road is not fixed, residents such as Tracy Mongelluzzo of Chris Drive will continue to get flooded, said Commissioner Chuck Konkus.

“I don’t want to ignore the flooding in these people’s properties,” Konkus said.

When there is a heavy rain, “my backyard looks like a river,” Mongelluzzo said.

Michael Korns, township solicitor, cautioned the commissioners that township code prohibits spending public money on private property unless it is repairing problems caused by the municipality’s infrastructure.

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