Board of County Commissioners' Actions:Commissioners approve park dam repair, Approve gas capture at closed landfill, Visit campers

CAPTION: Commissioners and Campers: Standing (L-R) Debbie Murphy, Chair, Recreation and Parks Board, Commissioners John Barr, Jim Kercheval,
Chris Malott, R&P Board, Commissioners Terry Baker and Bill Wivell.

Board of County Commissioners' Actions
Commissioners approve park dam repair, Approve gas capture at closed landfill, Visit campers

In its regular meeting on July 27th, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners approved a compromise plan to improve the dam at Devil's Backbone Park and make certain improvements to the area surrounding that dam.
Public Works Director Joe Kroboth and Deputy Director of Public Works Rob Slocum discussed recent meetings with the consultant Wallace, Montgomery & Associates, the Maryland Historical Trust, via telephone, and then with the Antietam Creek Watershed Alliance and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
The County is under a Notice of Violation and Corrective Order to repair or remove the dam. In a presentation by the consultant on July 13th, the County was presented with three options, repair, complete removal or partial removal of the dam.
This week's meetings resulted in a fourth option, which would repair the existing structure and includes restoration of the dam face with natural stone. In order to utilize $550,000 in state funds in this repair, the Maryland Historic Trust (MHT) would have to approve the project. MHT has determined that the fourth option would create no adverse affect, eliminating the need for a Determination of Eligibility (DOE) and mitigation. Repairing the existing masonry face of the dam will increase the project cost by approximately $550,000.
The Antietam Creek Watershed Alliance and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation determined that if the dam is to remain, stream improvements should be made within the park to improve accessibility and the environment. Suggested improvements included provision of safe landing and portage areas for canoes and kayaks to put in and take out upstream of the dam; construction of a safe walking pathway between the upper and lower parking areas outside the roadway and protected by a traffic barrier; improve the stream bank riparian buffer areas throughout the park with additional trees and vegetation; install MHT or historical plaques interpreting the Park's history including the Mill site; and replace the gabion baskets downstream of the dam with a more natural and environmentally friendly stabilization measure.
The plan would cost approximately $1.54 million, which is less than the dam removal option. The Capital Improvement Project budget line item for this project was $1.3 million. To make up that $240,000 shortfall, DPW Director Kroboth suggested transfer of funds from the Eastern Primary School Gym Expansion project.
The Board approved the plan and funding proposal, to include portage points for recreational boating, a historic plaque identifying the Mill site, installing trees and vegetation in the park and making further stream restoration a priority in the budget years to follow. The pathway between parking areas will require consideration under or coordination with State Highway Administration improvements to Maryland Route 68.
The Board approved the Resh Road Landfill Gas Use Agreement and License to Use Real Property Located at the Resh Road Landfill, with Washington Renewable Energy LLC (Curtis Engine).
The Resh Road Landfill closure-capping project was recently completed. The original project included multiple landfill gas collection wells as required by the Maryland Department of the Environment. However, that design did not allow any cost benefit to be realized by the County. The Gas Use Agreement will permit Washington Renewable Energy LLC to install a larger flare compound, at the company's expense, and generate revenue through the sale of greenhouse gas destruction credits. These revenues will offset their investment, with a portion of the revenue to be shared with the County.
Deputy Director of Environmental Management for Solid Waste Cliff Engle told the Board that the County could potentially see $25,000 in revenue depending on actual gas volumes collected. Washington Renewable Energy LLC would invest over $500,000 in that project and construction could begin in August.
The Board attended the annual "Happy Campers' Day" at Marty Snook Park in Halfway. Children from all of the County Recreation Department summer camps were on hand. A pizza lunch highlighted the event.
Washington County Recreation offers a variety of summer programs for area citizens. There are 8 summer youth day camps for children ages 6-12 in parks and at Community Recreation Centers in the County. An average of 600 children participate in the summer camps each year.
In other actions, the Commissioners approved a bid award for rehabilitation of the Barnes Road concrete bridge over Beaver Creek, to Building Systems, Inc. of Hagerstown for the amount of $696,419. Because this is a Federal Aid project, conditional award pending State Highway Administration (SHA) concurrence is recommended. Concurrence is typically provided by SHA within four weeks of the bid date. This is a 275-calendar day contract with a winter shutdown occurring from December 15, 2010 until April 15, 2011.
The project involves rehabilitation of an existing concrete arch bridge including replacement of the existing deck with a variable depth concrete slab to increase load capacity, new concrete abutments placed on the inside of the existing abutments, new concrete parapets, repairs to concrete edge girders, and minor roadway work including asphalt paving. All permits have been received and work is in the existing right-of-way.
Traffic will be detoured from the start of construction until December 15, 2010. On December 15, the road will be re-opened to all through traffic until April 15, 2011, when the road will again be closed to traffic until May 18, 2011 to complete the work. Appropriate signs will be posted and road closure notices will be made approximately 2 weeks prior to closing the bridge.
The Board approved a one-time grant of $5,000 to Clear Spring Little League's 9-10 year old All-Stars to assist with expenses in attending the Eastern Regional Finals. Town Clerk Juanita Grimm, and League representatives Kim Hill and Rob Embly made the request during Citizens' Participation.
The team won the Maryland state championship in its division at last week's tournament in Boonsboro and will travel to Rhode Island for the Eastern Regionals this weekend. There is no Worlds Series for the 9-10 Division, and the Regional was described as the highest level of competition for that age group. League representatives told the Board that there was no time for fundraising activities, and the request, with funds to come from the Commissioners' Contingency Fund, was granted.
Sheriff Doug Mullendore received approval for support of the Community Police Initiative in the town of Williamsport. The town due to state funding reductions cut funding for one of two Deputies assigned there. The Sheriff requested assistance to keep the second officer on duty there through use of surplus departmental funds. Mullendore told the Board that there are sufficient funds to keep the position active through savings from unfilled positions, until a slot opens up due to retirement, later this year.
Human Resources Director Bill Sonnik requested and received permission to advertise an Operator position at the Conococheague Wastewater Treatment Plant, recently vacated due to a resignation.
Art Callaham, Director of the Greater Hagerstown Committee brought an update of the Community Lobbying Coalition activities before the Board. For the past several years, County Government has financially supported Washington County's Community Lobby Coalition. Membership has included the City of Hagerstown, the Chamber of Commerce, the Washington County Free Library, and several other organizations.
New brainstorming sessions begin on August 9th, Callaham said, and it is important that the County participate in order that the community speaks with one voice in Annapolis. The Coalition will be developing initiatives for the next legislative session, with sensitivity toward the availability of state funding for local projects.