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Damascus eyes grant money

By Linda Drollinger
July 24, 2013

“It’s an opportunity that almost never comes around. I can’t remember the last time it happened.” Addressing all present at the July 15 Damascus Township Board of Supervisors meeting, chairman Jeffrey Dexter was referring to Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development grant monies available for use at the discretion of the township. Dexter asked the board members present, “If we were to go forward with a grant application, how would we spend the money?” The immediate consensus was that it would be designated for long-needed road rebuilding.

There followed discussion of the application process, which could conceivably prove so lengthy and expensive that it would negate the grant award. Dexter readily conceded that there were many questions requiring definitive answers before the board could make a well-informed decision on whether or not to proceed with the application; those questions could be answered by a feasibility study. Among other deliverables, the study would produce an application success rate expectation figure. The board seemed inclined to pursue the application, if the success rate expectation figure were 80% or higher.

Because much of the cost involved in the application process would result from engineering firm consults, it was necessary for the board to determine which roads would be included in the feasibility study. The three roads designated were Chicopee, Stonehouse, and Dexter. Questions were raised about the possibility, advisability and legality of asking the engineering firm(s) engaged for the grant application to work on commission, thereby defraying the greatest cost associated with the application. Dexter was of the opinion that this had been done in the past. There is also a possibility that the PennDot engineering study of those roads would be acceptable for purposes of the application. The feasibility study would examine all of those options. Following 20 minutes of discussion, a vote on whether to proceed with a feasibility study was held and passed. For its next steps, the board will speak with principals at the firm of James Martin Consulting.

In other business, three single-family dwelling permits were issued in June, and one single-family dwelling permit was issued in July. Dora Henry reported that the food pantry served 53 families in May and 55 families in June, noting that requests for assistance normally fall during the summer months. Public comment prior to adjournment brought a request for dust control measures on township roads. The meeting was adjourned at 7:35 p.m.