Cabot donates mulch for park

BY PAT FARNELLI

The town park on Greenwood Street in Hop Bottom will soon be improved with wood chips, thanks to Cabot Oil & Gas.

Borough Councilman Ron Barankovich has been working for more than a year to give the park a replacement layer of mulch around the playground equipment, in addition to other improvements to the fence, gate, and basketball court.

The park has had a dense layer of wood chips applied to the play area in the past, but wood chips break down and become soil, eventually disappearing.

“At this point, the mulch is practically gone,” said Barankovich. “There were eight or nine inches of it before.”

The playground area, next to Martins Creek, is generally damp, and Barankovich had been looking into using rubber mulch instead, which holds up longer and is made by shredding and recycling tires. That material is significantly more expensive than wood mulch, because metal belts in the tires must first be removed. Shredded rubber mulch costs about $5600 a ton, so the amount needed for the playground project would cost approximately $34,800. This was a little steep for Hop Bottom Borough, so Barankovich was seeking other sources of funding.

At the Dec. 4 meeting, Cabot external affairs coordinator Bill Desrosiers announced that the gas company could provide truck loads of wood mulch for the park, and continue to replenish them on an ongoing basis. Cabot would also donate up to $2,000 above and beyond the materials and labor for the project.

While the cost of rubber mulch was not something Desrosiers considered feasible, wood chips are a product generated by the natural gas industry, as trees need to be cleared for gas well pads, and limbs and branches are routinely chipped at sites.

Barankovich said that now is the ideal time for the mulch to be applied while the ground is frozen. “If you wait for spring, it’s too wet and spongy there,” he said.

Masters Cement of Kingsley has already offered to donate the weed mat which will be spread upon the areas where the wood mulch will cover. In order for the park to be eligible for grant funding, it has to be wheelchair accessible, which councilman Janice Webster said it already is.

She added that she is willing to do a grant application for a 50/50 grant for the park.

The council voted to accept Cabot’s offer of mulching materials and delivery.

Next, Desrosiers asked if the council was ready to adopt the Act 13/Impact fee zoning modification ordinance, as he had been instructed to stay if the council planned to vote on that ordinance.

Copies of the proposed ordinance had previously been distributed to the council members, and after several corrections were made, the council voted to adopt it.

The ordinance amended the borough’s zoning ordinance to be in compliance with the Act 13 legislation.

In other business, Webster suggested that the borough purchase Geocloth for the stream banks, which will keep soil from being washed away by rains. The Geocloth will not work to prevent erosion from stream water or flooding, she said.

The annual Christmas Tree lighting and celebration on Nov. 25 was a big success, with at least 50 people attending, it was announced.

Lathrop Township has erected no dumping/no littering signs on both ends of the Old Trail, and hidden surveillance cameras have been installed. The tires and trees along the Lathrop section of the trail have been cleared away.

There is a $1,000 fine for littering and dumping posted.

It was suggested that Hop Bottom Borough do likewise, and council members agreed. Bids for the sediment basin repairs are due Jan. 2, and will be opened at the Jan. 3 meeting, to be held at 7 p.m. at the Hop Bottom Hose Company. (The borough hall is still being renovated.)