News - August 2013
Millersburg Borough has completed a historic clean up of the riverbank at Riverfront Park, with the assistance of the Dauphin County commissioners.
Local contractors, with the assistance of borough workers, cleared all of the driftwood and debris from the riverbank ahead of the July 19 fireworks event. The effort was funded by a county gaming grant, a borough appropriation and a donation from the Millersburg Boat Club.
Almost every spring, the river rises and deposits garbage and driftwood from upriver. This year seemed to be a particularly bad year for river debris. In previous years, the borough public works crew cleaned up as well as they could, but the borough simply does not have the resources to completely clean the area. Even when the borough workers could push the debris into piles, disposal was a problem. There is simply no place to go with the debris and the borough has stopped burning due to environmental and safety concerns.
Borough Council Parks and Recreation Committee Chairman Brent Boyer led the effort to make the clean up happen. During budget talks in late 2012, Boyer lobbied for and secured $5,000 in the general fund budget to hire contractors to do the clean up. The boat club added a donation of $100. That still left the borough $7,900 short of the cost to hire a crew to do the clean up.
Boyer contacted Dauphin County Commissioner Mike Pries for assistance. Pries and Dauphin County Department of Community and Economic Development Deputy Director George Connor visited the site on April 11 and pledged to help with the effort.
“Once we toured the riverfront and saw the extent of the damage and debris, we had to help,” said Pries. “It’s inspiring to see the community come together and help make our local environment cleaner, healthier, and even more beautiful than it already is.”
Pries and Connor arranged for a crew of work release inmates from the Dauphin County Work Release Center to help with the clean up. The crew spent April 22 clearing trash from the driftwood and the Millersburg Moose Family Center Lodge 59 provided lunch. All three Commissioners – Pries, Jeff Haste and George Hartwick III – assisted with the effort and saw the extent of the problem first hand.
Pries and Connor also invited the borough to apply for a Gaming Grant when it became clear that a local effort would be futile. Pries and his fellow commissioners quickly approved the borough’s grant application for $7,900.
On July 30, 2013 the Dauphin County Commissioners present Millersburg Borough with a check for $7,900 for cleanup of Riverfront Park. Present (L to R) are Dauphin County Commissioner Mike Pries, Millersburg Bourough Council Parks Chair Brent Boyer, Dauphin County Commissioner George Hartwick III, Millersburg Borough Council President Chris Dietz, Dauphin County Commissioner Jeff Haste, and US Congressman Lou Barletta (Pa.-11). Photo courtesy of Millersburg Borough.
The borough hired Grosser Excavating of Halifax to clear the remaining trash and driftwood. The borough also hired WW Pallet of Elizabethville to grind the wood and haul it away. The contractors removed 300 cubic yards of debris and there is one small pile to be removed.
During the clean up, workers discovered a bee hive in a downed tree. Don Carns was able to preserve the hive. The borough also thanks local boat owners for their cooperation in allowing the workers to access the river’s edge.
In addition to making the park more attractive, the project improved access for recreational boaters as well as the Millersburg Fire Company’s water rescue service.
“Councilman Boyer’s efforts to reach out to the Dauphin County Commissioners and to the Millersburg Boat Club to assist the Borough in removing the riverbank debris that has been accumulating for years, have proven highly successful,” Millersburg Borough Council President Chris Dietz said. “I would like to thank everyone that continues to pitch in to maintain Millersburg's River Front Park as a valued treasure of our community.”
Future plans call for regular maintenance and upkeep of the area to keep the driftwood problem under control.
Additionally, the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership has awarded the Borough with a grant to address riverbank erosion that currently threatens Riverfront Park. Read more here.