Madison Street residents learn about upgrades

Steve Stake, left, and Sharon Oberholzer and their neighbors examine drawings of the infrastructure improvements that will be made to Madison Street. The borough hosted an information session to acquaint residents to the timeline for work on stormwater management, gas and water mains, and paving.

Madison Street is next on the list for utility improvements and paving in Greencastle, and residents heard about the impacts they could face at an informational meeting June 8.

Borough manager Kenneth Womack walked the 50 people through the process, expected to start once engineering is completed by Frederick Seibert and Associates on the stormwater system. The four-step street project should be completed by 2012.

Engineer Keith Moore said Madison had no true stormwater management system, so his firm was designing a system to carry water underground beyond the underpass to connect to existing pipe.

Columbia Gas will come in next to upgrade its lines and create unity at the same time. Currently, gas mains are on both sides of the street in places. Tom Werner, Construction Services Leader, said Columbia would put in a new line on the north side of the street only, and laterals to connect the homes on the south side. Meters inside homes would be placed outside in inconspicuous places. He cited safety reasons due to increased pressure in the lines. Resident Tad Thomas called the meters "an eyesore. Does the homeowner have a say in whether the meter is outside the house?"

"Not really," responded Werner.

The two-inch plastic lines will be installed between the curb and sidewalks, and excavating will be easier on the sections that are grass. When Columbia has to tear up an existing sidewalk, it will replace it free of charge to the homeowner. Michael Marcus, Manager of Community Relations, notified the residents that if they needed a new furnace, it was a good time to purchase. The state of Pennsylvania had a Home Heating Equipment Rebate Probram for people upgrading or converting to gas heat.

At step three the borough will replace the water main. Public works manager Dave Nichols added it was also the right time if anyone wanted to upgrade their own water lines. The borough would alert residents if their private lines were found to be defective.

The next improvement brought caution from Womack. "Next come curbs and sidewalks," he said. "I know this is a hot issue."

Since the state legislature had declared that homeowners were responsible for the walkways rather than municipalities, Greencastle had the authority to require them to install and repair the concrete or brick.

"This isn't a go-to-Lowe's-on-Saturday kind of project," he said. He reminded the residents that the neighbors along Allison Street had banded together and found a good price from a contractor, but someone had to take charge of organizing that.

Borough personnel would inspect the sidewalks and notify owners by letter if they were required to add or repair their curbs and sidewalks. He was adamant they wait until the water main work was done, or someone could come along and tear up their new sidewalks.

"Our inspection report is not written in stone, it's written on paper," he added. "If you disagree with what it says, come talk to me."

Womack and members of the Public Facilities Committee would look at the sidewalk with the owner to verify the mentioned faults. It would be too late to complain after new sidewalk was installed.

The borough received a $100,000 grant to construct ADA ramps at the corners, and a $15,000 grant from the Franklin County Housing Association to help low income residents pay for curbs and sidewalks in 2011. The guidelines for eligibility were based on 80 percent of the median income according to family size. One person in a household could earn up to $35,350. A family of four was capped at $50,500. Womack announced that the council would decide the maximum amount of grant money that would be allocated to one property. He hoped for another $15,000 grant to be used the following year.

Finally, Madison Street will be paved at the end of 2011, or if the borough decided to let the wearing coat sit over the winter, then the spring of 2012.

What lies beneath

Not every improvement affects the same section of Madison Street. The storm sewer will extend from Washington Street to Carl Avenue, with the pipes one to three feet below the surface. Columbia Gas will install its line 20-30 inches under the sidewalks from the alley east of Spring Grove Aveune to Carlisle Street. The eight-inch water mains will be submerged five feet from Linden Avenue to Jefferson Street. Finally, the paving will include reconstruction of the road from Jefferson Street to Ridge Avenue, and then an overlay out to Spring Grove Avenue. Womack hopes the entire project will have minimal impact on the citizens.

"This project is of substantial scope," he summarized.