Grounbreaking Ceremony for Shamokin Creek Flood Control Project in Mount Carmel Happening Next Week
MOUNT CARMEL - News that the Shamokin Creek Flood Control project will break ground next Friday was met with a mixture of excitement and doubt by one family along Water Street whose home has been repeatedly flooded.
Michele and Charles Krah have been waiting along with others through decades of delays, and they spent $22,000 in savings to make repairs to their home after flooding in 2010 and 2011. So they are hesitant to celebrate.
"They've talked about it and talked about it, but then something always happens to stop it. I don't want to get my hopes up," Michele Krah said Friday outside her house at 311 E. Water St.
But borough officials and others say the project will indeed get stated with a groundbreaking ceremony slated for 11 a.m. In fact, David R. Grey, project coordinator of community development with SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG), Lewisburg, invited the Krahs and others to attend Friday's ceremony, which will take place at the creek directly across from their home.
Expected to attend, in addition to borough officials
and Grey, are state Sen. John R. Gordner (R-27), state Rep. Kurt Masser (R-107), state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Deputy Secretary Clyde "Champ" Holman, state Department of General Services (DGS) Deputy Secretary James Henning, state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Project Engineer Doug Hill and Bill Seigel, program chief for
community development at SEDA-COG.
Start of the project comes as a relief not only to residents, but also to borough council members, who have been trying to push the project forward for nearly 30 years despite not having little control.
"I'm ecstatic that this is finally going to be done. The people down there (on Water Street) are so happy," council President Tony Matulewicz said. "They're emotional about it."
The project was expected to break ground nearly a year ago, but the state Department of General Services (DGS) rejected all bids due to a problem with the paperwork.
The same thing almost happened this time around when a formal bid protest was filed by one of the bidders, but SEDA-COG filed a brief of no merit on the borough's behalf and DGS agreed, Matulewicz said.
The window to appeal the brief passed last week; therefore, the project is allowed to move forward, he said.
Once the groundbreaking takes place, Matulewicz said a pre-job conference with the main contractor, Don E. Bower Inc., Berwick, will be scheduled, and construction should begin before the end of April and could potentially last three years.
Shamokin Creek is fed by two smaller streams that connect underneath North Pine Street near Francis Latovich Machine Shop. The water flows underground for three blocks until it flows out at North Locust and East Water streets, which is where the new construction will begin.
The creek then flows through town along Water Street for approximately a mile until it enters into Mount Carmel Township. From where the waters flows out at North Locust and East Water streets to the township will be the section that will be reconstructed with new walls accompanied by six-foot-high fences.
Bridges crossing North Walnut and North Chestnut streets will be torn down and built anew, but bridges crossing North Hickory and North Vine streets will not.
The new walls will be smooth concrete, and 20 feet of space across the creek between the walls.
At the end of the borough's construction, located on Reading Anthracite property behind the Mount Carmel Area Silver Bowl and Stadium Car Wash at West Third Street, an open pool and levy system will be constructed with pillars to break the flow of the water, at which time it will continue onto the rest of the creek.
The borough's obligations included acquiring rights to land around the creek and consolidating deeds and signing them over to DGS. At that point, DGS was responsible for the entirety of the project.
Funding in 1996
Phil Dunn, executive assistant at Gordner's Harrisburg office, said Friday the project has been a long time coming, and noted the first funding for it he can remember is when former Rep. Bob Belfanti (R-107) secured a line item in the state budget in 1996.
Gordner, Masser and Holman presented the borough with a ceremonial check for $500,000 in March 2012 for the project.
"We helped shepherd the project through and we're really pleased this is going to be a reality," Dunn said.
The Flood of 2011 is the fourth time in a year that the Krah family's basement was damaged by high water, even after they took measures to protect the lowest floor. They cemented shut the front basement entrance after the third time, but the extreme flooding in September pushed water all around their house, breaking open a steel door and dumping nearly 5 feet of water into their basement.
Michele Krah hopes a solution is finally near.
"It's been a long time coming," she said. "I don't know if I can take it anymore."