Work starts on Vernon pump track, spring opening planned

Vernon. Because of miscommunication, a permit was not in place at the start of construction. The township engineer says prep work by Vernon’s Department of Public Works allowed work to start earlier and greater progress than would otherwise have been possible.

| 27 Nov 2021 | 06:09

Work has started on the Vernon Township bicycle pump track. Mayor Howard Burrell on Nov. 15 said the project is expected to be completed by spring.

Spohn Ranch Inc. was awarded the $150,000 bid and began work on Nov. 8.

A permit issued on Nov. 10 by the Upper Delaware Soil Conversation District approved the township’s soil erosion control plan but required written notification 48 hours before any soil disturbance. The work started two days before that.

The permit will expire in May 2025.

Township Council President Harry Shortway said he didn’t know about the issue until 30 minutes before the Nov. 15 meeting.

“The responsibility of oversight falls to the council,” councilperson-elect Patrick Rizzuto said during the meeting. “I would think that should be addressed because there is the possibility of penalty.”

Township engineer Cory Stoner said there was a miscommunication between his office and Spohn Ranch, which was going to apply for the permit.

“We started putting the application together at the beginning of October, and we’ve missed their October meeting of the soil conservation district,” Stoner said.

Stoner said all the necessary measures are now in place, and the problems have been corrected.

Bigger and better with the DPW’s work

Members of the public asked why Vernon Township Department of Public Works employees were used to do some of the grading work at the site. Stoner said it allowed the township to get a larger and better product with different options.

“The best options we thought was that the town would do some grading beforehand,” Stoner said.

While he was doing that, he said, he told Sandra Myers, the soil conservation district manager, they were starting.

The DPW worked one day over a weekend, which Stoner said he didn’t request. But it was a day before a Nor’easter came through the area, he said, and after that, work couldn’t be done for another week and a half.

“They would not have been able to start work when they did, or get as far as they could, and the project would have been delayed even further,” Stoner said.

He said there would be no fines associated with that work.

“It is not best practices to do it in the manner that we did, and that won’t happen again,” Stoner said. “But we did get the permit after the fact.”

Project on budget

Rizzuto asked if the performance bonds were still valid, since the project was not completed by its original Nov. 6 date.

Stoner said the bonds were fine, and that there is no penalty date in the contract. The township wanted to have the track done this year, but with the winter coming, he doesn’t see it happening.

“The issue with the temperature is that they now have to put asphalt on top of the millings that we placed and really start forming the final form of the pump track,” Stoner said. “But it’s hard to do that when it gets cold for five or six days in a row.”

Stoner said the project is on budget, despite $9,000 in overtime and equipment rental fees for the DPW’s work. He said moving the completion date to the spring will not affect the cost and will result in a better product.

The asphalt track will require minimal maintenance, he said. The most maintenance will be needed in the areas around the track, he said.

“It is not best practices to do it in the manner that we did and that won’t happen again. But we did get the permit after the fact.” Township Engineer Cory Stoner