The Lancaster County commissioners on Wednesday approved the county’s first two American Rescue Plan Act allocations for community projects.
By unanimous votes, the commissioners awarded $119,500 to Martic Township for a crosswalk at Marticville Road (Route 324) linking two segments of the Enola Low Grade Rail Trail; and $3,465,156 to the Lancaster Clean Water Partners coalition for a suite of water pollution abatement efforts.
As presented Tuesday, Clean Water Partners’ proposal had totaled $4.6 million. It was able to reduce its request thanks to a new commitment by Ephrata Borough of $1 million toward one of the projects in the mix, the Gross Run stream restoration.
In all, Clean Water Partners told the county it has projects in the works that could make use of more than $27 million in ARPA funding. The 11 projects that it prioritized for funding are those that can be implemented quickly and will provide the greatest return in terms of pollution reduction, Allyson Gibson, Clean Water Partners’ director of strategic partnerships & programs, told the commissioners. A 12th allocation will support overall project management and coordination.
The $3.47 million approved Wednesday will leverage about $9 million in other funding, underwriting “transformational” environmental work in the county, she said.
Commissioner Ray D’Agostino praised Clean Water Partners for the thoroughness of the information provided in its application, the level of collaboration involved and the long-term environmental benefits its work will create.
Thanks to those factors, “this is easy for us to support,” he said.
Commissioner Josh Parsons noted that the Partners’ funding includes $750,000 for the Little Conestoga Creek Project, for which the county provided $150,000, also from ARPA, in its 2022 budget. He and his colleagues agreed there should be no “double budgeting” going forward — that is, grants to community entities through both ARPA and the county’s regular process.
The Little Conestoga Creek budget allocation was a one-time special circumstance, said John Cox, a manager on that project and a senior advisor to Clean Water Partners.
The Little Conestoga Creek Foundation sought funding through the budget process because that’s what was available at the time, he said. The funding approved Wednesday is truly “last-in,” and the foundation doesn’t anticipate having to seek any more. If it does, “it will be with good reason,” he said.
As for the Enola Low Grade Rail Trail crossing improvement project, the county’s ARPA funds are supplying the majority of the $160,000 cost. All other available funding sources are tapped out, said Jim Hearn, chairman of the Martic Township Rail Trail Advisory Committee.
The crosswalk and signage will allow trail users to safely cross the intersection of Marticville Road with Red Hill Road. There is a parking lot for trail users nearby.
Early this month, the $9 million Safe Harbor Trestle Bridge opened. Plans are to complete the repair of the Martic Forge Trestle Bridge over River Road, damaged by arson, later this year. Plans call for the roughly 28-mile long rail trail to eventually be part of a larger trail system, the Schuylkill to Susquehanna Greenway, totaling some 85 miles.