THE MAYOR’S REPORT: ‘MS4, Past, Present, and Future’

Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.

So, by now you’re aware that I so enjoy good ole fashioned porch sittin’. In the future I’ll write about the history and significance of porches. Today being Sunday has been a humid summer day. The iced tea has really been enjoyable. I previously advised I’d update you on this MS4 thing. That is coming up shortly.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, July 9, I attended The Removal of Drape & Unveiling Service in memory of Mother (Pastor) Cloretta Grice of Praying Time Ministries located on South Carlisle at Railroad Street. Pastor Grice passed away in May. Attendance at this celebration was so heartwarming. I extend a special thanks to the congregation for the invitation. Mother Grice was a wonderful leader for the church’s mission serving Greencastle and beyond.

After the MS4 waiver:Stormwater fee rebate approved by council

Triennial celebration begins Aug. 6:Community members getting excited about Old Home Week

By now Greencastle residents should have received a July 2022 newsletter put together by our wonderful staff. A special thanks for your efforts and writings. One of the stories includes MS4 as I impart a bit more information. I was asked to provide an MS4 update at council’s June 25 workshop along with the borough’s engineer and state Rep. Paul Schemel. My presentation was entitled “MS4, Past, Present, and Future.” As there were just a few citizens in attendance I am pleased to provide an update to you. The federal Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) regulations have been around since 1990, specifically, for urban areas. Multiple agreements were signed by four Pennsylvania governors regarding protection of the Chesapeake Bay. This is what brought Greencastle into the mix when letters were received in 2016 mandating a plan. Greencastle had until the end of that year to apply for a waiver from the regulations based on four criteria, however, no waiver was requested. In early 2020 Greencastle did receive a five-year waiver after discussion with the PA DEP secretary, the hiring of a special engineer, and borough staff research with submission of a waiver application. This waiver will expire May 12, 2025. Council had already initiated a stormwater pollutant impact fee (SPIF) that was significantly reduced upon receipt of the waiver.

Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.

The Chesapeake Bay is the nation’s largest estuary. Streams and rivers flow from portions of New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia into the Bay. The agreement’s outcome is to lower nutrient and sediment pollution; help ensure waters are free of toxic contaminants; sustain fisheries, blue crabs, oysters and forage fish; restore wetlands and underwater grass beds; and conserve farmland and forests.

Presently, Greencastle has an inactive focus group that I suggested being formed in 2019. This group will begin meeting in September. Greencastle will be planning readiness preparation for a future waiver application by considering current stream testing (modeling) and examining our three stream outfalls where the borough’s storm water flows. Greencastle was and is active with public education and outreach which is one of the criteria known as minimum control measures. Greencastle’s population is well under 10,000, according to the 2020 census. This was one of the previous waiver criteria.

The Borough of Greencastle’s environmental stewardship includes a bioretention swale at the Besore Library.

So how does Greencastle prepare for the future for MS4? Be sure our focus group and elected officials do our due diligence and be good environmental stewards by continuing to educate the public with prudent environmental practices. Some are outlined in last week’s Borough Newsletter. Create a stormwater outfall inventory system, inspect regularly, clean up any environmental hazards, and document, document, document. The Besore Library’s expansion brought environmental stewardship with the new bio-retention swale installed by the borough with a grant from state Sen. Judy Ward. Borough officials should be aware of any future waiver criteria and document information and timelines accordingly. Greencastle should be prepared to partner with future environmental bioretention projects with the Greencastle-Antrim School District, faculty, and students. Conduct tree plantings. Offer technical assistance to individual property owners, housing, and commercial developments as all these efforts could show the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection that we truly care about our environment without having to mandate what could be hundreds of thousands of dollars of costs to our citizens. We should also partner with Franklin County Conservation District and seek funding for common sense stormwater improvements. Much could be accomplished before May 2025 so we may receive another five-year waiver based on our stewardship.

Meanwhile, I’m so excited. My next writing will be authored as we enter our 41st Triennial G-A Old Home Week. Booklets and badges are on sale now. My congratulations to President Bonnie Shockey, officers and committee members for your hard work over the past three years in preparation for what is sure to be an exciting week. To the majority of property owners and tenants who care for your buildings and yards, I offer my sincere thank you. We are certainly blessed!