River Bounty plans to dissolve

BY STACI WILSON

River Bounty – the non-profit corporation – charged with administering the Oakland Dam project since 1981 plans to dissolve.

A letter written to Susquehanna Borough Council from River Bounty Chair Edmund Burdick detailed the group’s struggle after an operator defaulted on a lease; damage to the powerhouse, equipment and the dam by floods; and a breach of the dam which rendered a major blow to any future hydroelectric project.

The 2008 dam blow-out made it “no longer financially feasible to generate electricity at the Oakland site,” Budick’s letter stated.

River Bounty had been granted a 99 year lease from Oakland Borough for the use of the dam and the powerhouse; and through a sublease with American Hydro Power Company, the plant generated electricity and provided revenue for community projects until 2000.

River Bounty has given land to the Tri-Borough Authority, the Susquehanna fire department and the Susquehanna Borough.

The group is attempting to sell the equipment, but noted in the letter that it may have to be sold for scrap.

River Bounty is asking Oakland to allow the group to terminate the 99 year lease with no further obligation.

The group has also proposed giving Oakland Borough the one-acre of land on the Susquehanna side of the river where the dam attaches and asked for Susquehanna Borough Council’s blessing on that matter.

Council, however, did not move to approve the request, noting plans to seek the advice of the solicitor on the matter.

In other business, the owner of the Starrucca House in Susquehanna attended the borough council meeting and asked for copies of the work orders and the notification the condemnation was lifted on the structure.

Councilman Roy Williams, who also oversees code enforcement in the borough, was not present at the meeting and other council members could offer the owner little information.

Council President Roberta Reddon said Williams would be notified of the request but the group could offer little more information because the borough was in litigation with the owner.

“There’s no more stopping on the building,” the owner told council.

A Fourth Avenue resident told council he would be having water and sewer line work done at his property in mid- to late-April and that the street would be closed while the work was being done. He also told council that he would like to attach his sump pump to the storm drain at that time, saying the borough had set precedent for it in the past by allowing a neighbor to tap into the system.

The Department of Public Works requested that a utility truck be purchased for small jobs in the borough that don’t require the large truck.

Council members agreed that a smaller truck would make sense for some regular tasks but questioned DPW’s estimate that a truck could be acquired for $6,000 or less.

Councilman Joe Varsik suggested that vehicle options should be found and presented at the April meeting.

Councilman John Hendrickson reported on several water leaks and water issues that happened during the recent cold weather – including a four-inch water main that was frozen.

He also thanked residents who cleared the snow from the fire hydrants in the town.

In an update from a previous meeting, Reddon reported that the new water tower is not in use yet; and increased pressures from the new water system have not been implemented yet.

She said a representative from Pennsylvania American Water Company was expected to attend the April meeing and more information may be available at that time.