A major challenge in construction of the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail was how to get the trail across railroad tracks about 2½ miles south of Bainbridge.
“We were at a standstill,” Conoy Township Supervisors Chairman Stephen L. Mohr said on Thursday, April 11. “We had no clue. There was talk of burrowing under the railroad; there was talk of trying to go over the railroad.”
But eventually, a solution emerged: a walkway that took the trail under the Shock’s Mill railroad bridge. James D. Warner, then chief executive office of the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority, was instrumental in getting that done.
And on the evening of Thursday, April 11, township supervisors voted unanimously to rename the former Shock’s Mill Walkway as the James D. Warner Passageway.
Warner was honored earlier in the day when he was told about the renaming at a surprise ceremony.
“The plan to come up with the walkway, that was just enormous,” Mohr said at the ceremony. “If it hadn’t been for you and the walkway, I don’t think the trail would have been completed as it was.”
At the ceremony, Mohr compared Warner to three historic figures: Daniel Boone, William Penn and Sacagawea. All three of them, like Warner, were known for passageways.
Mohr noted that although Boone is known for settling Kentucky, he was originally from Pennsylvania.
“He was from the eastern United States, and he discovered a way to get to Kentucky. He went through the Cumberland Pass. Once he located the Cumberland Pass, Kentucky was inhabited,” Mohr said.
Penn ensured public access to the Delaware River when he started Pennsylvania.
“By laying out the city of Philadelphia, he said the waterfront is supposed to remain public forever. So even though people bought the houses and the lot, right between them was a public walkway,” Mohr said.
And Sacagawea guided Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to the Pacific Ocean. Although Lewis and Clark knew the Pacific Ocean existed, they needed help getting there.
“She could speak multiple languages, so she could communicate,” Mohr said. He noted that with her help, “They found a pathway to the Pacific Ocean.”
Mohr then presented Warner with Conoy Township road signs, one that says “This Is Not a Gun-Free Zone” and one that says “This Blue Is for You,” a reference to the blue stripe that the township placed between the yellow double stripes on roads to honor first responders.
After that, Mohr surprised Warner with an immense plaque with Warner’s picture on it that recognizes the walkway under therailroad bridge as the James D. Warner Passageway. Mohr said it was important to recognize Warner’s 31 years of service to the community.
“It’s been 250 years since any passageway has been named in the United States,” Mohr said.
“I was very surprised when I walked in here today. This is pretty special,” Warner said.
Warner then went on to note that he worked with many others.
“There’s people out in this room that should have faces up there too. I mean, I was in, just in, the place at the right time and just followed a vision, just followed what other leaders should do, just try to do good in the community. I had an organization that followed that vision with me and terrific people that knew how to make it happen. Because I wasn’t the one out doing all the detail,” Warner said.
Warner said he was grateful that the LCSWMA board allowed the authority’s management and staff free rein to go out and spend money to work with municipalities to improve community and build relationships.
“I followed my heart. Sometimes I stretched what the waste authority would traditionally be doing,” Warner said.
He singled out Dave Wilhelm for being especially helpful.
“Dave put a lot of effort into getting this done,” Warner said.
He ultimately said he is grateful for the recognition.
“This is really, really over the top and I can’t thank Conoy Township enough,” Warner said.
The renaming was made official hours later by a vote of the Board of Supervisors.
“He was hell-bent on that trail going to Columbia,” Mohr said at the board meeting.
Also at the meeting, supervisors approved a memorandum of understanding and other agreements with a group that plans to build a dog adoption center.
Almost Home Dog Adoption wants to build a 24,600-squarefoot building with 62 parkingspaces on a 12-acre lot at the intersection of River Road and Prescott Road. Supervisors voted unanimously on Thursday, April 11, meeting to approve the memorandum of understanding as well as operation and maintenanceagreement. Supervisors previously voted 3-2 in January to approve the plans after their solicitor said it would be difficult to defend a denial in court; Supervisors Clyde H. Pickel and Vice-Chair Gina R. Mariani cast the dissenting votes in January.
Neighbors had previously raised concerns about barking nuisances; representatives of Almost Home said the dogs would be kept indoors at night and would get plenty of exercise in the daytime, making it likely that they would be asleep at night.
In other business, supervisors voted unanimously to buy a new dump truck for $143,700 to replace a truck that had its engine fail during a snowstorm. Mohr said the old truck, which the township bought new in 2000, was found to be in bad enough shape that it was not worth fixing.
Supervisors also voted to approve a new fee schedule, which solicitor Bernadette M. Hohenadel said would make the township’s fees easier to follow.