Washington Twp. approves Lake Lucy request

Township Supervisors sometimes have to make tough decisions and the Washington Township Supervisors faced a dilemma at their regular meeting May 11.

The supervisors voted by a unanimous 2-0 margin to approve the Lake Lucy Sewage Authority moving forward with its building a new sewage treatment plant by approving its request to submit a Request for Proposal for the project. Township Supervisor Kevin McCauley was absent from the meeting.

The reason the approval is a gamble is there is no guarantee Lake Lucy will receive the grant funding from the state and Washington Township, which oversees the Lake Lucy Authority, would be responsible for the Lake Lucy Association’s debt incurred for the project.

“Do we really have a choice in the matter?” Supervisor Vice-Chairman Eric Bauer asked rhetorically prior to the vote. “We need to get this project moving, get it rolling.”

Clarion County Planning Department Director Kristi Amato spoke prior to the vote informing the supervisors of the Lake Lucy Association being in the process of submitting a Community Block Grand Development (CDBG) for a new sewage treatment plant. She also informed the board that Lake Lucy Sewage Authority President Richard “Butch” Harriett wants to put out an RFP prior to the association receiving the grant funds. Amato said Harriet wants to move forward with the RFP to show the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection the Lake Lucy Association is moving forward with the project.

However, Amato wasn’t a fan of moving forward with the RFP so quickly.

“One of the problems I’m having with it is, let’s say we submit the RFP, we have (engineering) firms that are submitting information and we go through that whole process; we don’t know when the competitive grant is going to be approved,” Amato said. “It might not get approved until this time next year. Is that engineering firm going to wait an additional year to get paid?”

Supervisor Chairman Mark Beichner doesn’t believe Harriett wants to move forward with the RFP as much as the DEP wants him to move forward with the RFP

According to EADS Engineer Josh Kalp, the DEP is requiring the Lake Lucy Sewage treatment plant to be completed by October of 2025. Kalp was skeptical of the project being done by October of 2025.

Township Secretary Jacqui Blose asked if there was any advantage in putting out the RFP now.

“Scheduling-wise, you are not going to hit that October date if you don’t start the process now,” Kalp said.

Blose further asked whether putting out the RFP would extend the DEP’s timeline because the Lake Lucy Authority is applying for the grant.

“The reason for the RFP is to get the engineering paid for,” Kalp responded. “Because it has to be competitively bid for CDBG or even PennVEST to pay for it.”

“What happens if (Lake Lucy) doesn’t receive the grant?” Blose asked.

Amato said the Lake Lucy Authority would be responsible for paying for whatever work the engineering firm had put into the project. If the Lake Lucy Authority does not have the funds to pay, the responsibility would fall on Washington Township.

The Lake Lucy Authority also has to have an engineering firm put together an Act 537 plan for the project.

Beichner asked how much an Act 537 plan update would cost. Kalp informed Beichner it was somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000.

Amato added that whatever engineering firm wins the RFP bid, they have to realize they won’t be getting paid until the grant funding comes through.

Beichner asked Amato if Washington Township could be reimbursed through the grant.

Amato said she would have to check on it but she believed it was possible.

“As long as we go through the proper RFP process that meets the CDBG guidelines, there is a possibility you could be reimbursed if it is funded fully,” Amato said.

The EADS Group has done some preliminary work on the project which according to Amato could cause a problem if EADS doesn’t win the RFP bid.

“If we go through the RFP process and for some reason EADS doesn’t get it, that work that they’ve done might (not be used for the project),” Amato said. “Though, (EADS’s plans) might be used because the (firm that won the bid) might want to look into what they have done and see if it is correct or not.”

Amato said there are signs which point to Lake Lucy being likely to being awarded the grant including the fact that the state prioritizes the grants for water and sewer projects. Moreover, Amato said Clarion County had not been awarded a competitive grant for quite some time.

The Lake Lucy Authority applied for a $2.2 million CDBG grant. The Lake Lucy treatment plant serves around 40 households.