GRACETON — Up front, the plan looks great. It’s the model of cooperation between two government entities.
The Center Township supervisors and the maintenance team at Central Indiana County Water Authority look to share the work on a project on Six Flat Road, just off Route 119 south of Homer City, when the weather breaks.
The plan calls for the water authority to install several hundred feet of new pipelines and extend service to about nine homes in the area, according to authority manager Rob Nymick. The township at the same time would install new storm drain catch basins and pipes, to solve water runoff problems that have long plagued the residents, on a 900-foot stretch of the road, said township supervisor Dave “Butch” Smyers.
The beauty of the plan is cutting excavation costs by digging just once, laying both sets of pipes, and refilling the trench just once.
But for as admirably as the crews would share their work plans to move forward, they’re equally at the mercy of a force that could scrub the project this year: the excessive costs of dealing with the brutal winter weather.
“We’re over budget by about 30 percent for manpower and materials through the end of February. That’s where I’d ballpark it,” said John Bertolino, chairman of the township supervisors, at the board’s monthly meeting on Monday.
Township crews have worked overtime clearing snow and spreading anti-skid material on area roads this winter, that much is obvious.
The water authority’s problem wasn’t as apparent until a few days of mild weather broke the constant freeze. Over he past couple of weeks, CICWA has been barraged with costly breaks in the main pipelines — nine so far, Nymick said Tuesday.
“Do you have a magic wand that will reveal how many more days of snow and ice cold we’ll have?” Nymick asked. “We just don’t know how many more breaks we’ll have. We’ll see how the rest of the winter plays out and then we’ll know.”
Nymick said the authority is about to dig and replace about 740 feet of pipe in Homer City, on a line that has been plagued with three breaks and a valve malfunction — a project the authority hadn’t planned, and a very costly one.
But if the weather stabilizes and the ICCWA pipes stop breaking, and if the snow stops and the township crews can rest the plows, the Six Flat Road project might get under way this year.
The full cost of the work wasn’t available.
Nymick said the water authority’s side of the work would run about $40,000 but township officials didn’t give an estimate on Monday.
Smyers said he submitted the drainage project for community development and other grants, but it didn’t qualify.
Even when a work schedule is set, Smyers said, they won’t know when it will be complete. That depends on the difficulty of the excavation in the project area, running east from Tearing Run Road.
Six Flat Road resident Ken Black urged the supervisors to make the improvements in his area.
Ultimately, the supervisors said, the project depends on two budgets.
“That’s where we are,” Bertolino said. “We’re waiting to see what the water company said. If they don’t have the amount needed for the project, then obviously we can’t start our project. What money we would have left we would allocate to finishing up some other projects in the summer.”
In other business Monday, the supervisors:
• Reported that the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is considering the township’s application for $12,500 of grant funds for a drainage improvement project along Fabin Road. If awarded, the project would be completed by May 2015, Smyers said.
• Learned from Greg Coleman, of the Graceton-Coral Sportsmen’s Club, that an unspecified natural gas pipeline company has approached the club about extending natural gas pipe-lines on club property near the baseball fields that flank Route 119. The work would be part of a project to extend gas lines from Luciusboro to the Homer City Electric Generating Station, Coleman said.
The supervisors said they would expect the utility company to assume all costs of the project and restore recreation facilities to their original or better condition at no cost to the township.
• Received a report of activity of Coral-Graceton Volunteer Fire Company for February from Fire Chief Sam McAdams.
The volunteers put in 220 man-hours of training at the Indiana County Public Safety Academy, conducted a drill at the fire station, and took classes to earn certification for hazardous-materials awareness and operations.
“It’s not required by (Pennsylvania) Labor and Industry or the federal government, but by the end of May, I expect about 70 percent of my members to have ‘hazmat ops,’” an advanced level of certification, McAdams said.
McAdams also reported that the Coral-Graceton fire department plans to hold a festival July 4 on fire station grounds, and asked the supervisors to permit the closing of First Avenue between Locust and Chestnut streets from 3 p.m. to midnight that date.
The supervisors advised McAdams to notify the Indiana County 911 dispatch center of any street closings at the time of the event.