By Tim Sohn
News Eagle Correspondent
Plans are in the works to expand facilities and equipment big-time at Rohman Park in Shohola thanks to more than $200,000 in grants.
According to Diana Blume, Shohola township secretary/treasurer, at the Board of Supervisors Dec. 13 monthly meeting, in 2011, the township received $83,000 from the Pike County Commissioners to build a pavilion. Blume has met with an engineer, bid packages are being put out, and construction is expected to begin in March, allowing all park events to be rain or shine.
This year, according to Blume, the township received a $25,000 grant from the commissioners to add additional parking at the park. In addition, on Nov. 20, Blume was notified that the township will receive $94,000 from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to expand playground equipment and upgrade the ballfield.
"That is huge, and Diana, you are responsible for all of that," said Jennifer Hamill, head of the township Park and Recreation committee. Blume explained that John Knapp assisted with putting bids together and getting quotes and Hamill proofread the grants. "They have done an amazing job in supporting me," said Blume.
Tax abatement asked
Township Solicitor Jason Ohliger said he has reviewed a proposed abatement program, which was presented by Michael Sullivan, executive director of the Pike County Economic Development Authority and Chamber of Commerce, at the November supervisors meeting, and the board thinks it is a good idea.
The abatement program would be available for improvements to businesses that move to Shohola. Businesses that make improvements would receive a 90 percent tax abatement in the first year, 80 percent in the second year, 60 percent in the third year, 40 percent in the fourth year, and 20 percent in the fifth year.
Ohliger said the board needs to make several decisions regarding the proposed program, including whether to create an ordinance or a resolution addressing the abatement program, and if it wants to designate all, parts, or some of the township as in need of economic revitalization.
Ohliger suggested the board get input from the Planning Commission. A public hearing on the abatement program will take place at the February meeting of the Board of Supervisors, and the Planning Commission will review the abatement proposal and make its recommendation at that time.
In other news:
• The board approved the 2013 township budget, which does not raise taxes. At a previous meeting, George Fluhr Jr., chairman of the Board of Supervisors , said he can’t make the same promise for next year due to rises costs for heat and pension obligations.
• Fluhr urged township residents to attend a public meeting set for Jan. 24, 5 p.m., at the township building, at which the district manager for the U.S. Postal Service will discuss possible changes coming to the Shohola Post Office, including a two-hour reduction in window hours, from eight to six on weekdays. Saturday hours would remain the same. The Shohola Post Office is not the only one being affected in the region – 14 post offices will be affected in Wayne and Pike counties. According to the U.S. Postal Service, final decisions about the fate of these post offices will not occur until after the public meetings in each community take place.
• The board approved increasing the treasurer’s bond to $550,000 to cover the amount of money in township bank accounts. According to Fluhr, the account amount is likely to exceed $500,000 this summer.
• Spring House Garage in Barryville, N.Y., placed a Shohola Police Department decal on one of its vehicles at no charge to the township. "We are pretty fortunate that crime has not been too bad in the area, but this should deter it even more," said Supervisor Keith Raser.
• Bob Myers, township roadmaster, said road crews will have to knock over garbage cans that are in the way when plowing. Local garbage companies now require residents to leave the cans within two feet of the road. Diana Blume, township treasurer/secretary, will place information on the website alerting residents to this issue near the cans as well as mail boxes.
In addition, the district manager for the postal service will be conducting a public meeting on Jan. 24 at 5 p.m. At the township building to discuss changes in service for the Shohola Post Office. "I’d like as many people as possible to show up for that because we’d like to keep our service as good as possible. This is our chance to say something," said Fluhr.
The 2013 township reorganization meeting will take place Jan. 7 at 9 a.m., at the township building, followed immediately by the regular monthly supervisors meeting.