The Elizabethtown school board agreed to allow Elizabethtown Borough to extend a pedestrian and bicycle path onto Elizabethtown Area School District land, but only if the borough takes full responsibility for paying maintenance and repair costs.
The board’s unanimous vote at its action meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 17, followed a presentation on the project by Borough Manager Roni Ryan at the board’s workshop meeting a week earlier.
Ryan said then that the partially completed project stems from a 2010 regional plan adopted by four municipalities – the borough along with Mount Joy, West Donegal and Conoy townships – that includes recreational trails and pathways.
Ryan said the borough had received a $400,000 grant for this next phase of the pathway, which would go from the end of the existing path near Chestnut Street and pass behind the middle school to the Kiwanis Boulevard stream crossing at Elizabethtown College.
Ryan said the borough would incur all design and construction costs, but that the district would be asked to assume maintenance costs, including replacing light fixtures if needed. The borough would pay for electrifying the lights, Ryan had said.
At the meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 17, school district Business Manager George Longridge said that since the pathway doesn’t lead to the main school entrance, it would not likely be used by students as a walkway to school.
Asked about security, Longridge reported that while there will be lighting, there won’t be cameras, and providing school staff to monitor the path would be challenging. Superintendent Michele Balliet said there has been vandalism on that side of the building.
Board member Craig Hummer said he understood the plan to create a walkable community, but he wasn’t in favor of anything that creates liability and maintenance costs for the district, particularly with the financial challenges the district faces.
Longridge said he was concerned with costs several years down the road, including repaving and storm water basin repairs. Board president Terry Seiders was concerned because a large portion of the pathway would be in a floodplain.
“I can’t imagine that this walking path is going to be built to any standards higher than a road,” Seiders said, referring to how flooding can damage roads.
He added, “I don’t want to discourage the community path, but I don’t want to be responsible for that.”