Antrim Township and Norfolk Southern negotiate

PAT FRIDGEN

Norfolk Southern (NS) would like Antrim Township to own the future bridge on Hykes Road, which will be an overpass to the train tracks leading to its intermodal facility. Antrim supervisors want no part of it. NS would also like Antrim to take over Milnor Road. Again, the supervisors are not interested.

The board met in executive session May 11 to discuss the proposal, first presented to Antrim personnel the previous week. NS designed an agreement spelling out responsibilities between itself, Antrim and PennDOT concerning infrastructure related to its major construction project.

Supervisor James Byers initiated the response. "We do not want to own a bridge that could easily bankrupt us in 50 years. We don't want to take on Milnor Road."

He added that NS owned most of the bridges it traveled over, but if Antrim took care of the Hykes bridge the rail company would travel under, the municipality wanted a maintenance agreement so expenses wouldn't become a burden to taxpayers.

The supervisors were concerned with costs related to bridges, such as yearly inspection fees, and maintenance and repairs to the concrete and steel structure. Milnor as a through road now was a state road, but when it was divided into two dead-ends, PennDOT wouldn't maintain it and the township wasn't anxious to take it on either.

Chairman Rick Baer asked the NS representatives to return for another meeting with PennDOT and possibly people from Franklin County, since most bridges in the township were owned by the state or the county.

Roger Bennett, director of industrial development, agreed. "We appreciate your feedback and will talk to our team."

Meanwhile, the grass

is growing

While the supervisors seek resolution to a township mowing dilemma, employees are trimming the parks and municipal properties. At the April 27 meeting, the owner of Tuscarora Landscaping indicated he was unable to obtain bonding for his very low bid. He admitted his base price of $15,880 for the three parks, municipal building and water treatment plant was not enough, but he would honor it. However, since the bid was more than 10 percent away from the only other bid, the insurance company wouldn't give him a performance bond. He had given Antrim a $2,350 certified check which he stood to lose if he couldn't get the backing.

Fred Young III and Curtis Myers tried to ease the situation, moving to take Martin's Mill Bridge, the municipal building, the water plant and the mowings already completed out of the package as an allowed change order. That would have brought Jeremy Bard's contract fee down to $9,058 for fewer duties. It failed on a 2-2 vote.

Byers was uncomfortable with setting a precedent.

Young responded, "He's not building a road. We've never required a bond for mowing before. I don't see a problem holding (his) 25 percent bond. Otherwise we have to find someone else to mow. If we rebid, they'll come in higher."

Solicitor John Lisko said the option then was to let Bard decide if he could do the work at the original bid. If not, "you retain the certified check and call the case closed."

On his advice, the board unanimously rejected the other bid, which was just over $72,000. "I don't think (the bid is) in the best interest of the township," said Young. The supervisors allowed Bard three weeks to find financial help or it would pull the bond.

Administrator Brad Graham said after the meeting that eight companies had been present at the pre-bid meeting but only two submitted bids. "We were late going to bid this year, and some of them already had their mowing season contracts. They were hesitant to take on another large one."

He had budgeted $75,000 for contracted mowing, expecting it to come in less. As a result of the bid responses, he anticipated using two part-time college students, a current employee and possibly another person, inhouse or hired, to mow the township properties.

In other business, the board authorized closing the township office Wednesday, May 19, at the request of the staff. The day will be set aside for filing.