Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Harrisburg Council OKs agreement with Swatara Township as city continues quest for permanent composting site

A screen shot of Tuesday’s virtual City Council meeting

Harrisburg’s leaves, grass and branches are headed to Swatara Township, as the city continues a longstanding quest to find a permanent place for its compostable waste.

City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to enter into a two-year intergovernmental cooperation agreement to use the Swatara Township Yard Waste Composting Facility.

“The city is no longer taking any of its woody waste to the incinerator, so we’re looking to make sure we’re disposing of this properly,” said council member Westburn Majors.

Since 2017, the city has tried to get approval to build its own composting facility on land owned by the Harrisburg school district, just over the city line in the Edgemont section of Susquehanna Township. However, township officials have rejected that proposal, a decision the city has appealed to the courts.

“As we are in continued litigation regarding the potential set up of our own composting facility, this hopefully will be a short-term solution as we continue to work through those issues so that the city can finally have a place to dispose of its leafy and woody waste,” Majors said.

City Solicitor Neil Grover on Tuesday said that the appeal could easily take more than two years to wind its way through the courts and come to a conclusion.

In the meantime, the city already has been sending its compostable waste—vegetative material like leaf waste, grass clippings and garden residue—to the facility in the Oberlin section of Swatara Township. The resolution approved on Tuesday formalizes that arrangement, Grover said.

Harrisburg will pay the township $2,945.10 per year, starting on Jan. 1. Christopher Nafe, the city’s sustainability officer, said that amount was proposed by Swatara Township, a figure, he added, that the city deemed reasonable.

Also on Tuesday, council unanimously passed a resolution entering into a reimbursement agreement with Capital Region Water to fund the installation and construction of ADA-compliant curb ramps, curb extensions and other streetscape improvements as part of CRW’s South Allison Hill Green Stormwater Infrastructure Project. Under the arrangement, the city will provide $150,000 to reimburse CRW for certain improvements it is making as part of its extensive stormwater project in South Allison Hill.

City Council on Tuesday also:

  • Approved use of $250,000 from federal Community Development Grant Fund program to help fund a new “Chutes & Ladders” playground in Reservoir Park. At its last meeting, council approved a grant application for another $250,000 to the state Department of Community and Economic Development to fund the $1 million project. The CDBG funds will serve as a city match for the DCED application.
  • Approved the submission of a grant application for up to $150,000 to the National Endowment for the Arts’ “Our Town” program for the installation of murals on Derry Street in Allison Hill. If the grant is received, Sprocket Mural Works and Tri County Community Action would oversee the mural project.
  • Approved the submission of a grant application to the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program for up to $9 million to fund substantial renovations to Harrisburg’s MLK Jr. City Government Center.
  • Approved the appointment of residents Leland Nelson and Richard Martinez to serve on Harrisburg’s Environmental Advisory Council.

Harrisburg City Council now will go on its annual summer hiatus, with the next session slated for Aug. 25. Harrisburg Council member Ausha Green, though, said she plans to hold public hearings in the interim on two ongoing measures–a proposed police use-of-force resolution and a proposed citizen’s police advisory committee.

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