Mount Joy Township supervisors are considering options for a proposed fence and possible gate around the parking lot for Northwest Lancaster County Regional Police cruisers and officers’ personal vehicles.
The new Mount Joy Township Fairview Municipal Complex in the former Fairview Elementary School building is adjacent to the township’s Wolgemuth Park, a widely used recreation area. Supervisors are concerned that children and pets playing in the park could run into the police parking area, creating a hazard, especially if police need to leave in a hurry to respond to an emergency call.
In discussions at their meeting on Monday, Sept. 18, supervisors were not sure how high to make the fence or whether it should be a chain-link fence or a decorative fence.
“I don’t want barbed wire across the top or anything like that; I want it attractive,” Supervisor Debra Dupler said; nobody spoke up to disagree with her.
Supervisors and Police Chief Mark Mayberry also discussed the possibility of a gate at the entrance to the parking lot. Mayberry said he has checked with other police departments in the region and the only one that has a gated parking lot is the Derry Township force in Dauphin County. The advantage to a gate is that it provides extra security; the disadvantage is that it takes time to open, delaying a response to an emergency call, and it will especially delay an emergency response if it malfunctions.
“I’d hate to put a gate up and have to move it or decide we don’t need it,” Supervisor Gerald Cole said.
Supervisor David Sweigart said the township could put up a fence without a gate for now and install a gate later if it seems like a good idea later.
Supervisors agreed to delay a decision on the fence and possible gate until the October meeting, directing Township Manager Justin Evans to get more details on various options.
In other business, all supervisors present agreed to charge about $45,000 annual rent to the police force for the first year it is occupying part of the township’s new building. (Supervisor Lisa Heilner was absent from the meeting.) Treasurer Richard Forry said that is the same price of $5.78 per square foot that the police force paid at the old township building on Merts Drive, but the police force had less space in the old building, so it only paid about $26,500 annual rent there. Forry said the cost of utilities and insurance at the new building are not yet known, so he suggested that the cost of rent be re-evaluated after a year once those costs are known. Mount Joy Township and West Donegal Township each pay about half the cost of operating the police force that serves both townships, so about half of the rent that Mount Joy Township collects is coming indirectly from its own treasury.
Supervisors also agreed to use a public auction instead of sealed bids to sell off the former township building on Merts Drive near the Cloverleaf Road interchange with Route 283. It is unclear, though, how much land the township will have to sell. It is possible that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will require that a new exit from Route 283 have its off-ramp go through the old township building’s property. Another possibility is that the off-ramp could go to the existing Merts Drive, Evans said. He said former Township Manager Steve Gault, a traffic engineer now working in private industry, plans to attend the October township meeting to discuss what he knows about the matter.
“I think it would be good to hear what Steve has come up with and what his estimate is for how it would fly with PennDOT,” Evans said.
In the public comment portion of the meeting, Shane Gillham asked township supervisors about what he said is a problem with speeding in the Rockwood housing development. Mayberry said his department had set up a device to monitor traffic speed over six days on Old Hershey Road in the development and found that of 2,064 vehicles going through the 35 mph zone, 209 were over 46 mph, which is as fast as a vehicle would normally need to be going for Northwest Regional Police to pull it over. Mayberry said 56 were seriously speeding at over 51 mph. Supervisors agreed to gather more data about traffic speeds in the area.
The next township meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Fairview Municipal Complex at 8853 Elizabethtown Road, Elizabethtown. There is an open house from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. before the meeting, when the public is invited to tour the newly renovated building.