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Residents Thankful for Construction Meeting

Lansdale staff, the borough engineer, and councilmen met with affected taxpayers of West Fourth Street in preparation for an upcoming Community Development Block Grant project

By May 7, residents of West Fourth Street between Broad Street and Walnut Street in Lansdale will be inconvenienced for four months because of the replacement of sanitary lines, storm sewer lines, water lines and new curbs and sidewalk.

Everything's good for now.

A construction charrette Monday night at with those affected residents brought some things to the forefront and those residents can now sit a little easier knowing what's to come.

"I do appreciate this," said renter Nancy Logan, who resides at 20 W. Fourth Street. "It's better than having no communication."

Borough Manager Timi Kirchner said the charrette was very successful.

"I had a number of people thank me for having it," she said. "We were happy to have all these residents in the room. Often you come and you can't get all your questions answered. This was a very successful approach."

The borough was awarded a Community Development Block Grant through Montgomery County that will pay for new storm sewers, all new curbs and sidewalk along West Fourth Street and new paved road. Homeowners will not be charged for anything.

The work will begin next week and end around September.

"We are going to be improving your water lines and sewer lines," said Kirchner to the audience of about 13 taxpayers and renters.

The borough will have to go out to bid for replacement of sanitary sewer lines.

The North Penn Water Authority will begin its replacement work on or about May 7, according to Dan Preston, director of operations for NPWA.

Utilities director Jake Ziegler outlined the progress of the grant application up to now. He said the street met all the demographics to have the grant awarded to Lansdale.

"Last year, we envisioned this was a project we'd like to do because of the condition of the road and the utilities," he said. "Most boroughs and townships are applying for the same funds. It's not guaranteed."

"Because this is a grant-funded project, your curbs and sidewalks do get paid for," he said.

Ziegler said the borough consulted with the NPWA on the project and it "feel on the heels" of their replacement project.

Preston said the replacement project is part of a $3 million annual program.

Preston said NPWA will be replacing 550 feet of old 4-inch cast-iron pipe with 8-inch pipe. They will also be renewing 25 water services.

He said it would take about five weeks to complete the NPWA portion of the project.

"You will see a minor interruption in service," Preston said. "First thing in the morning, we'll knock on the door and let you know prior to it happening. If you're not home, you won't see a difference."

Landlord Tom Gilles asked if the new water lines would increase the water pressure. Preston said it would during a high-demand period.

Resident Brenda Gross asked if the special needs bus for her child would be able to access West Fourth Street.

Preston said NPWA will coordinate with the North Penn School District or other educational facility about the project's timeline.

Ziegler added the borough puts out notices to the police, the schools and the trash companies about inaccessibility of the street.

"What the school does about it is up to the responsibility of the school district," Ziegler said. "They cooperate well and I'm sure if there is an area of special need, that need gets met."

Preston said they will be sure to keep access open for Bright Beginnings Nursery School, located inside the church.

Ziegler said the grant only covers the storm sewer work and all curbs and sidewalk replacement.

He said that the borough is responsible for replacing the main in the street and the lateral connections from the main to the face of the curb.

Property owners are responsible for any connection between the curb and the home.

Logan said there is lead piping connected to the home where she resides.

"If we excavate and see lead piping, we will encourage you (the property owner) to replace it at that time," Preston said. "From (the curb stop) on is the homeowner's responsibility."

Logan said her landlord has not fixed sewer back-up issues or mold issues in the basement. She said the borough had asked the property owner to replace the pipes.

"Our concern is our water. We buy bottled water because the sewage there is very, very bad," Logan said. "The landlord knows about this. We've been sick for months. We can't even walk down to the basement."

Ziegler said the borough will make notes of any unusual plumbing. Director of Community Development John Ernst also took note of Logan's complaints.

"We want to live up the standards like everybody else," Logan said.

Ziegler said he is always available in his office to address any issues.

"It's not like we have one meeting and we're done, you'll never see us again; we're always out there," he said.

Gilles asked about various type of pipes and how they will be matched up with the new pipes.

Ziegler said that if the contractor doesn't have the fitting, the borough will make arrangements to get the fitting.

"The contractor knows this is part of the bid process," Ziegler said. 

Gilles said a previous contractor used concrete instead of the proper fitting when replacing pipe outside a home he owns on Fifth Street.

"He tried to tell me it was my problem; it wasn't my problem. Now, it gets backed up only a couple times a year," () said.

Ziegler said that will not happen on this project.

"It's been engineered to not do that. Can I guarantee perfection every step of the way? I'd like to," he said.

Engineer Owen Hyne, of engineering firm Remington, Vernick and Beach, said his firm will specify the fittings for the contractor to use. He said an inspector will be on site.

"He won't be there 100 percent of the time, but he will see everything that goes into the ground," he said. 

Ziegler said the wastewater treatment department has a TV camera, so it can now view and record laterals. He said the borough will follow up with looking inside the main and laterals once the contractor has finished installing them.

"These cameras have a difficult time getting around the traps, but up to that point, we can say this is what the condition is," Ziegler said. "Before the road is paved, we can go in there and see what is done."

Ziegler said the contractors should work between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The road will be posted "No Parking" as well.

A few residents were concerned with the parking issue, as they feel Northwestern Human Services takes up some of the spots where residents can park.

Councilman Jack Hansen said the posted no parking is for the safety and well being of residents during the project. If there is a parking issue, then they need to take it up with public safety.

One resident asked if she had to remove her landscaping and yard furniture for the project. 

Ziegler said the curb and sidewalk replacement should occur right where they are located. He said spillover to the yard is possible, but it would be kept to the "absolute, absolute, absolute minimum."

Preston said all properties are photographed and videotaped before the project commences, so that if there is damage, the responsible parties know what to fix.

Ziegler said all materials would be stored on the street itself.

Hansen told residents at the end of the meeting that they will be inconvenienced by this project, but it's worth the investment.

"You want to ensure your neighborhood is safe to live in as much as it can be," he said. "Work with us."

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