LOCK HAVEN - A western Clinton County water mapping project does not pass muster from the state and must be funded through other means besides Community Development Block Grant money.
That was the report from county grants administrator Bill Suydam to the commissioners at their work session Monday. The state Department of Community and Economic Development, which administers the CDBG program, has decided the $7,500 originally designated for the mapping project in Chapman Township and South Renovo must instead go somewhere else because it is a planning activity and not part of design or engineering services, Suydam said.
The project is associated with an over $1 million project to interconnect the Renovo, South Renovo and Chapman Township water systems.
Instead, the state suggested the project could be funded through the state's Shared Municipal Services program.
Suydam asked the commissioners where they would like to reallocate those funds.
Commissioner Tom Bossert suggested it go toward the demolition of what's remaining of a building used by Greater Renovo Area Heritage Park, 350 Erie Ave., Renovo.
"It's a terrible mess," he said, noting one part of that building has already been razed. "That building is so jagged and so irregular that water is going to infiltrate that structure and, eventually, the pointing of the brick is going to deteriorate and it's going to put that building in jeopardy. If it isn't today, it's going to be in a short period of time."
Long added: "It's not a structural issue at this time, but if left go, it will be."
The commissioners instructed Suydam to see if there are any legal issues relating to that building. He said the county has three years to reprogram that money.
In a related matter, the commissioners will schedule a ribbon-cutting ceremony for sometime Thursday to officially open a new water storage tank to serve residents of Chapman Township, and bring to an end water boil advisories that have been plaguing that community for over a decade.
Bossert said the tank has been completed for some time, but the water had to first be "flushed" through the system before the advisory could be lifted.
"At that ribbon-cutting ceremony, DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) should declare that Chapman Township doesn't have to boil their water anymore," Bossert said.
Commissioner Adam Coleman also Monday reiterated his concerns over the timeliness and costs of permits issued by the state to drill for natural gas in the region.
The Marcellus Shale deposit, which runs in most of western and northcentral Pennsylvania, including Clinton County, is expected to bring millions, if not billions, of dollars into the region. However, Coleman said that big payday is being delayed due to state regulations.
"Obviously, keeping the environment safe and clean is the number one priority... but there are definitely some issues with timeliness. There are issues with permits costing exorbitant amounts of money," he said, noting a water use permit through the Susquehanna River Basic Commission is $11,000.
"Nobody's saying we should give the gas companies free reign on what goes on and not have any environmental standards for them, it's just getting these permits done in a timely manner."
Coleman said Clinton County is in the middle of the natural gas boon, but no wells have been dug as of Sept. 15, with only seven drilling permits issued.
"Right now, we're the only county in the mix that hasn't had any wells dug yet," he said, adding Lycoming County has 48 permits issued and 14 wells drilled, as of Sept. 15.
Coleman also noted a bill introduced by several legislators, including state Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Lock Haven, would protect landowners from damages caused to their land by a drilling company has been sitting in the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee since February of this year.