Sunday, August 2, 2020

High Cleaning Costs Keep Norco Playgrounds Closed

Photo from township website.
The playground in Riverside Park.
The cost is too much and the benefit too unknown for the North Coventry Township Supervisors to hire a company to clean the township's playgrounds weekly in an attempt to open them up to the public amid the coronavirus epidemic.

That was the conclusion reached Monday when the supervisors met for their regular meeting.

Township Manager Erica Batdorf said according to the lowest bids the township received, it would cost the township about $800 per week, or $3,500 per month, to have Budget Maintenance come in and clean  the playground equipment om the township's parks.

"We have no budget for it, but that's the reality of what we're looking at," she said.

"And how effective is that cleaning?" asked Supervisors Chairman Jim Marks. "Is it good or safe to the end of the day, end of the week?"

"I can't see spending the money when we have no idea if it is providing protection," he said. "I think we should keep the playgrounds closed until the numbers are headed in the right direction. We have to keep safety as the first priority."

The four other supervisors agreed.

"That's an awful lot of money," said Supervisor Rick Scheler. "As much as I would like to keep the playgrounds open, I don't see the money in the budget. We're already walking a tightrope."

 The playgrounds have been closed since  Gov. Wolf ordered all such public facilities closed. 

Batdorf told the supervisors that calls to the township are not so much complaints as they are inquiries about whether the playgrounds are open.

Streambank Restoration

The supervisors did vote to make some park improvements Monday, largely related to improving water quality by reducing erosion, a federal mandate as part of the Clean Water Act.

The township has five years to meet a target goal of reduced "suspended solids," or dirt, in the surface water that leaves the township.

This section of streambank in Kenilworth Park
could use some restoration to reduce erosion.
Two projects approved Monday should put the township 85 percent closer that goal.
Streambank restoration on Kenilworth Creek in Kenilworth Park, and along Bickle Run, are eligible for state funding from the Department of Community and Economic Development, said Batdorf.

The total cost for both projects is $240,609, with the state picking up more than half, depending on how the grants are awarded.

"We finally have a funding source for an unfunded mandate," said Supervisor Rebekah Elliott.

Roadmaster Jon McKee said his road crew can reduce the cost by doing some of the clearing work, particularly along Bickle Run, which runs beneath Keim Street and Miller road. 

"The permits are good for two years, I think it's time to get the ball rolling," said McKee.

The board agreed and voted to apply for the grant funding.

Fire Company Fundraising

Most of us noticed there was no Norco Fair this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. What some may not know is that the fair is the primary annual fundraiser for the Norco Fire Company.

The most recent chicken dinner to 
benefit the Norco Fire Co. sold out.
The pandemic also sidelined the fire company's usual fundraising letter, as well as Bingo and flea markets. Revenue from hall rentals for weddings and the like is also likely reduced.

A barbecue chicken dinner held recently did well "and they sold out of chicken," said Supervisors Chairman Jim Marks. Unlike previous years, the dinners people ordered ahead of time were delivered directly to their cars to maintain proper social distancing.

Another is scheduled for Aug. 29, from 11 a.m. "until the chicken runs out," according to the fire company website. 

Marks said the fire company website recently added a way to donate electronically.

Perhaps nothing has made the fire company's value to the community more evident than the July 30 fire that destroyed Ashwood Apartments putting more than 100 people out of a place to live.

It was at the firehouse that the victims were taken for food, clothing, comfort and connection with the Red Cross and to which an outpouring of donations from community were brought.

"I know the times are difficult, but it's been a difficult time for the fire company too, so if you can, please consider making a donation," Marks said.

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