The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

December 16, 2013

‘Gravel pit’ development

Sewage treatment plant project seen as trigger

MERCER COUNTY — More than 13 years after the county lost the chance to be home to Cabela’s sporting goods store, plans are in place to begin a $9.1 million project that will bring needed infrastructure improvements to the infamous “gravel pit,” an area at the interchange of Interstate 80 and Route 19 called “the No. 1 economic development site” the county has.

Work will begin in early 2014 to build a sewage treatment facility in that area, which will provide sewer systems to nearly 500 residents in East Lackawannock and Findley townships, while at the same time providing sewer service to the gravel pit, the lack of which has been a marketing stumbling block for years, according to county Commissioner Chairman John Lechner.

“We knew that without sewers and water and electricity at the interchange that development would be years down the road. It’s not a case of saying to developers “come and we will build it;” it’s a “build-it-and-then-they-will-come” kind of deal,” Lechner said.

The infrastructure at the interchange has been a hot-button topic for years and Lechner, who has been a county commissioner for nearly eight years, campaigned on the issue.

“I’ve said I would see to it that there were sewers at that interchange if I had to go down there with a shovel and dig them myself.”

He said he sees the county as being on the cusp of a huge economic boom, due in large part to the oil and gas industry expansion and also the development possibilities that sewers will provide.

Because the area has been mined, there had been discussion that the ground wasn’t firm enough to support large-scale development, Lechner said. However, he said he’s had discussions with engineers who explained the process of “dynamic compaction” to him, which involves using a crane to drop a huge weight on the ground, which firms the ground in a reverse cone fashion, he said.

“And it would then be absolutely perfect for light industry, or retail or warehousing. We have the greatest assets in this county and that is that we have three interstates. With the sewers and eventually water and electric at the interchange there is a very, very real possibility that we could have development similar to that at the I-79/208 interchange,” he said.

“I’m not saying we’d have another outlet mall necessarily, but certainly we could look at hotels, restaurants and so forth. Getting the sewers there is the most important first step. And it’s a lot more than we had there,” he said of possible development.

He also believes the oil and gas industry will be a boom for the county, but that it hasn’t started just yet.

“That boom will be here for years and years, once we get the pipelines to carry the product. We know the good stuff is down there. I see permit after permit, which is sent to us as a courtesy, crossing my desk. We know we’re getting fabulous results from the test wells,” he said.

“Mercer County is poised for the greatest economic boom we’ve ever seen, in my personal opinion. And we’ll need hotels, stores, housing, shopping and all the things that go along with that consumerism. I’m really thrilled to see that the sewers are becoming a reality. Now the key is to ensure sane and controlled growth.”

Dan Goncz, the engineer for the project, said the plant will be built in the northeast quadrant of the interchange, where the county owns 218 acres. Homeowners who will be getting sewer treatment options will be sent a letter in the next few months. Goncz said work is under way to design the plant and construction should finish in 2016.

“There’s definitely a real need. There are quite a number of malfunctioning sewer systems and it’s for the betterment of the watershed,” he said.

Funding for the project is coming through the Neshannock Creek Watershed Joint Municipal Authority, an organization formed in 2004 to help develop and protect areas along Neshannock Creek. The U.S. Department of Agriculture last week announced a $7 million combination loan and grant for the authority to begin its project.

Details about tap-in fees and other homeowner questions have not been worked out yet, Goncz said, but information will be given out as soon as it’s available.

Text Only
Local News
  • City zoners give nod to Speedway signs

    Speedway cleared a hurdle Thursday when city zoners granted a variance for signs at the company’s gas station and convenience store proposed for downtown Sharon.

    August 1, 2014

  • Retirement is definite, hiring replacement isn’t

    Farrell Fire Chief Joseph Santell will be retiring at the end of this year.

    August 1, 2014

  • Natural gas rates drop 5.6 pct.

    National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp. on Thursday announced it lowered residential natural gas rates by 5.6 percent, effective today through October.

    August 1, 2014

  • Audit calls for better record-keeping policies

    The annual auditor’s report for the City of Farrell was presented by City Manager Michael Ceci to council members Monday.

    August 1, 2014

  • trout island trail paving Hot on the trail

    Work began last week to pave a section of the Trout Island Trail, replacing a crushed limestone surface.

    August 1, 2014 3 Photos

  • CIRT team in Jackson Center Man arrested after shooting standoff

    One Jackson Center man is recovering from a bullet wound, and the borough resident accused of shooting him sits in jail after a long night of drinking that state police say turned into a case of attempted homicide.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sharon Speedway location City on track for new Speedway store

    Speedway is lining up its administrative and bureaucratic cones on plans for the gas station and convenience store chain to zoom into downtown Sharon.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Guards, county OK deal

    County officials and guards at the Mercer County Jail have reached a tentative contract agreement that, if approved, halts the idea of privatizing operations at the facility.

    July 31, 2014

  • Doss: Public has right to know

    A major part of Farrell council’s work session Monday was spent deciding whether or not to inform the audience about an unofficial police proposal from the City of Sharon.

    July 30, 2014

  • Budget falling short despite tax hike

    Farrell residents may have seen an income tax increase this year, but the city isn’t seeing the extra dollars City Manager Michael Ceci budgeted for.

    July 30, 2014

  • oakwood graves 1 Resting together

    Visitors to Oakwood Cemetery would see many  familiar local names if they looked down the hillside to the left just inside the gate on Sharon’s North Oakland Avenue.

    July 30, 2014 3 Photos

  • Police: Kids in car were OK

    The mother of two young children was drunk and passed out when police found them all in a car parked along a city street, Sharon police said.

    July 29, 2014

  • To talk – or not – about police

    The mysterious agenda item, “No. 10,” at Farrell’s council meeting Monday became the center of a heated workshop and business session.

    July 29, 2014

  • Community thanks its first-responders

    Sharpsville honored its emergency responders Sunday at an event that included Mertz Towers residents as special guests.

    July 28, 2014

  • Drilling boom challenges state inspectors

    The state’s 83 well inspectors face a daunting enough challenge keeping tabs on 120,000 active oil and gas wells that have been drilled over the last century.

    July 28, 2014