By Peter Becker
Managing Editor
A long awaited approval from the state has been received for the sewer line extension down the Route 6 commercial district between the Hawley Borough line and the Route 590 intersection by the Pike County bridge.
Palmyra Township -Wayne County Supervisors have been working on this project for over two years. Bringing central sewer to the township's major commercial area is expected to encourage new business development and allow existing businesses to grow.
Peter Steffen, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said this was good news for the Township and a better use of the land. He said it was a long time coming.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) approved the sewer facilities update plan, known as Act 537 that has been filed by the Supervisors over a year ago.
Steffen said that their engineer, Keystone Consulting, will now be able to put together bid packages. A permit will be needed from PennDOT to bore underneath Route 6, and the Wayne County Conservation District needs to approve an erosion and sedimentation plan. Steffen was hopeful that these permits could be in hand by June. In that case, he hopes that ground can be broken right after the busy 2013 summer season, following Labor Day.
This approval allows the project to proceed, stated Frank Schweisinger, sewer plant manager at the Hawley Area Authority. He said it was unknown how long it would take to see the project completed, but this was an important step.
The sewer line is to be extended from the existing line that reaches as far as the Lake Region office of The Dime Bank, just west of the Hawley Borough line. The extension will serve 14 commercial properties and two residences, as well as provide sewer availability for three lots that are currently vacant. The line will serve both the Route 6 corridor and Roosevelt Highway, the old section of Route 6.
Schweisinger stated that the Township will be responsible for the engineering, to secure the line and have it installed. A gravity line will service both sides of the highway. The line must pass underneath Route 6 to connect the Lake Region complex, which includes, in part, the IGA Market and CVS Pharmacy.
Hawley Area Authority will have their own engineer on site to ensure the extension meets their specifications. The plant manager said that the sewer treatment plant on Hudson Street had plenty of capacity to serve this part of the Township, and would bring in needed sewer service revenue.
Approval of the Act 537 plan took as long as it did due to the extensive review process DEP requires. Alternative land-based systems had to be looked at. Steffen said that his argument was that they already had an exemplary sewer treatment plant in place, capable of handling the added flow.
Schweisinger commented that it was "absolutely" good news for business development, and could lead to finding someone to take over the former Arby's Restaurant location. Central sewer could also spur development of the remaining vacant land in that section.
Each of the businesses were favorable to the plan, Steffen said.
Jim Shook, co-owner of Lake Region IGA, along with real estate representative Robert McGinnis, approached the Supervisors in February of 2010, stating that McGinnis had a client at that time interested in the old Arby's. They asked the Township for assistance in extending the sewer line. It would have been very costly for individual businesses to seek connection to the line and would probably not receive DEP approval without the Township's support. Chairman Steffen agreed to investigate.
In June of 2011, Township received word of that a major state gaming grant for the project had been approved, totaling $225,000. This money was used to update the Act 537 sewer plan, which was filed with DEP in the fall of 2011. Keystone Engineering is working with the Township on the project.
The funds came from Mount Airy casino revenue, through the Monroe County Local Share Account Grant administered by the state.
In September 2012, the Township agreed to apply for additional funds from the same source. Steffen said that he hopes that the second grant would fund a large share of the construction costs, although the businesses impacted realize they may have to contribute towards it. He said the Township is also expecting to provide a portion.
Costs to hook up the sewer system will be the responsibility of the Hawley Area Authority, Steffen said.