PALMYRA TWP. (Pike) - “If the culvert collapses and it fails, it will cause major erosion,” Nick Spinelli, Lake Wallenpaupack Watershed Management District Administrator said, talking about a large, eroding pipe inside Tanglwood Lakes Community Association.

Tanglwood Lakes is seeking a sponsor to administer a state grant application for a major culvert project. Palmyra Township (Pike County) Board of Supervisors and the Watershed Management District each discussed which of them would be the most appropriate agency to assist.

The culvert pipe underneath the main drive in Tanglwood Lakes, is failing, and needs to be replaced. Ralph Graf, Community Manager at Tanglwood Lakes, said that the old, galvanized steel pipe is huge: 17 feet wide by 14 feet high. It was installed many years ago to carry Kleinhan Creek, when the community was expecting it form a new lake. The pipe was originally circular, but has been deteriorating and is now “egg shaped.” The concrete block side walls, held by a wire mesh, are bulging.

Graf told the Palmyra Township board, July 18th, that they were not successful in the first round of the competitive grant application. He said there were 14 applicants from Pike County; four were successful, three from municipalities and one from a VFW post.

The amount they are seeking is $324,000, from the Local Share Account (LSA) grant program. These funds are raised from casino revenue, in this case, at Mount Airy in Monroe County. The state distributes the funds to applicants in both Monroe County and adjacent counties.

Graf contacted grants consultant, Jim Martin, who recommended submitting a second application for the current round. To boost their chances, Tanglwood Lakes decided to double the match from 15% to 30%, the percentage the community will be responsible to pay.

“This will be a big hit on our reserves,” Graf said. “The pipe could be north of 324,000.” The cost is an estimate based on a similar project done at Masthope. He stated that the project will be good for their community, and the area in general.

A non-profit agency is needed to be the applicant. Graf asked if the Township would assist them. Supervisor Eric Ehrhardt said that they are concerned about setting a precedent, to serve as at the administrator for a private entity. The Township only applies for their own projects or for the school district, both which are taxing bodies that serves the whole community.

He suggested that Tanglwood Lakes ask the Watershed District board, on which he is a member. Graf stated that the Watershed District was the applicant the first time around. Ehrhardt said that the Township could instead write a letter of support for the application, without acting as the administrator.

The County Commissioners have already written a letter of support.

Township solicitor Anthony Waldron recommended that Graf emphasize the environmental benefit the culvert project will serve, since the District is concerned with protecting the lake’s water quality.

The next day, Graf contacted Nick Spinnelli, Administrator for the Watershed District.

The Watershed District board, after discussion, felt that their agency would not be eligible to serve as the grant administrator. Carson Helfrich, who is on their board, said they could double check, but in another case, the grant had to be go through the municipality.

Ehrhardt, speaking to the Watershed board, said that the Township could not make the application for a private community per se. The Township may consider it, however, if could be justified by the Watershed District that the project would impact water quality for the whole lake.

“If it fails, it will be a major erosion problem,” Spinelli stated. The pipe itself is starting to fail, but there was not a present need for watershed restoration. He said that last year, the District sent a letter of support for Tanglwood Lakes.

Helfrich advised that the District look at long-term liability when acting as grant sponsor for another entity.
Spinelli suggested having a meeting with the involved parties, including the community, their engineer (Kiley Associates) and the grants consultant. Brian Smith, Wayne County Commissioner who serves on the District board, advised sending a letter to the Township stating how water quality would be adversely affected should the culvert fail. The motion passed without dissent. Ehrhardt abstained from voting.