The Lebanon County Commissioners approved three bids on Thursday totaling $909,741 for Phase 1 construction of the John E. Wengert Memorial Park in Lebanon.

The estimated cost for Phase 1 is $1 million. Overall project cost is unknown since the full scope of the project is undetermined at this time. 

SLC Excavating of Quarryville was awarded the site improvement, or general, contract with a bid of $503,435. 

Cornwall-based Stoner Electric Inc. received the electrical contract with their bid of $207,766. 

The third bid of $198,540 will purchase playground equipment, a 16-foot by 24-foot pavilion, fitness equipment, five security cameras/installation, benches and other park fixtures and signage. The lion’s share of this bid is for playground equipment costing $108,985. (Another pavilion, which is not included in this bid, will be constructed at a later date.)

The third bid is with the state-administered COSTARS program. COSTARS is the commonwealth’s cooperative purchasing agreement initiative used by the Department of General Services to lower costs for public procurement units and state-affiliated entities. Lebanon County is a COSTARS member.

Phase 1 of the park project is being funded through a collaboration of local groups whose support exceeded the minimal match of a $400,000 grant provided by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The DCNR grant was awarded to Lebanon Valley Rail to Trails Inc. in 2022.

Read More: $400,000 grant helps to jumpstart John E. Wengert Memorial Park project

John Wengert, who is the son of the park’s namesake and LVRT president, told LebTown after the commissioners’ biweekly meeting on Thursday that it was a team effort to make this phase a reality.

“That’s good, that’s really good and I’m really happy about it,” said Wengert about the collaboration. “Once it’s built, the real work starts. The maintenance of it, the upkeep of it, and the management of it will be critical going forward. Every one of these entities will have some part in that.”

Wengert said each organization will contribute and continue the partnership to “ensure that it stays in good shape once the park is built.” He added the conservancy plans to create a Friends of the Park organization for their future contributions to the park. 

Ron Birch, a conservancy board member, said during the meeting that the organization is proud of its role and its desire to honor the legacy of John E. Wengert, who was a conservancy board director.

Contributors and the amounts they provided are: City of Lebanon ($215,000 using ARPA funds), Lebanon County Commissioners ($100,000), Lebanon Valley Conservancy ($95,000), and Lebanon Valley Rail to Trails Inc. ($75,000). Additionally, two $15,000 Marcellus Shale grants are being applied to Phase 1 construction costs.

It’s unclear at this time how the county will fund this since a commitment was given in 2021 for the project. County administrator Jamie Wolgemuth told LebTown on Friday that the commissioners will have to decide at a future meeting how to fund their portion of the project.

Wengert said the park will help enhance the aesthetics of the rail trail with a plan to encourage those users to enjoy a variety of city destinations while in town. He also noted that the trail will “run right through the middle of the park” once it is built.

“It’s going to be a good destination point for people coming from either direction, but especially from the South. Anyone coming from Lancaster County or points to the south to the city, you don’t necessarily know where to stop,” said Wengert. “This will be a good stopping point. You could theoretically turn around there, park there or stop there and go grab lunch downtown. That’s what Chris (Coyle’s) article was about: trying to connect the downtown to this park via the Veterans Memorial Walkway.”

Read More: Lebanon City Council briefed on upcoming recreational projects

A future project will be to add signage similar to those posted along the Northwest River Trail in Lancaster County. For example, when trail users reach Marietta, numerous signs along several access points on the trail direct individuals to the many amenities that the town has to offer.  

“We’ll develop signage that tells them where to go – whether they want to go get lunch or do whatever – visit Snitz Creek, the Downtown Lounge or whatever,” said Wengert. “That’s exactly what they do there (in Marietta) and that’s what we need to do here. That’s what people want to do. They don’t want to (bike) ride all day and then just go home. They want things to do, which is the fun part – in my opinion.”

When completed, the playground will include a traffic- and dairy-themed garden, fitness stations, a promenade at the entrance and other amenities to make the park the destination that Wengert envisions in honor of his father. Wengert added that the dairy-themed garden will replicate a 1940s-era dairy operation similar to Wengert’s Dairy to honor the Wengert family’s legacy in the dairy business.

LebTown previously reported that the park will be an urban leg of the LVRT, which has been in the works for more than 20 years. It will stretch 2 miles, connecting the park with North Cornwall Township’s Glonninger Woods Park along the Chestnut Street corridor, then turning north across Route 422 and the Lebanon Valley Mall property to the Phase Seven trailhead. 

In a separate action item, commissioners voted unanimously to award a contract for $63,500 to Mechanicsburg-based Wilson Consulting Group. Wilson will manage a county bridge construction project over Michter’s Road at Hammer Creek in Heidelberg Township that is set to commence at the end of June.

Wolgemuth noted that the commissioners had opened bids and awarded contracts at a special meeting of the commissioners on May 30 for companies to build the new bridge. That special meeting was held so that work could begin for a project slated for completion by the end of 2024.

Read More: Lebanon County Commissioners approve 1-lane bridge project at special session

Wolgemuth cited the work Wilson will do as project manager.

“The contract is for $63,500 for them to provide various inspection services, oversight, answering requests for information, et cetera, over the course of construction from the end of this month until December,” said Wolgemuth.

The motion to approve Wilson Consulting as project manager passed unanimously. 

In other business, the county commissioners voted to: 

  • Amend a Marcellus Shale grant award of $13,000 for a playground project in South Lebanon Township for the South Lincoln Avenue sidewalk project.
  • Provide hotel tax grants to two organizations. The Lebanon Area Fair requested and received a grant totaling $10,000 for a budget of $12,000 for advertising in various digital platforms, printing t-shirts for the fair and marketing the annual agriculture extravaganza. The application noted that the fair has utilized in recent years a marketing initiative known as “geofencing” that markets the fair to other regions. Additionally, the grant will provide online ticketing services via a third party vendor called Saffire. The grant application notes that the Austin, Texas-based company maintains the fair’s website and provides software for the reading of QR codes during fair week. The second grant was provided to Lebanon-based Beast of the East tractor pulls totaling $5,000 of a projected cost of $10,000. The application states visitors attend from seven different states outside of Pennsylvania and that the grant would cover promoting the four to five truck and tractor pull events that the promoter plans to run this season at the Lebanon Valley Expo Center. 
  • Reappoint three individuals to the Lebanon County Agricultural Land Preservation Board for three-year terms to run through Jan. 31, 2027. Those individuals are Paul Bametzreider, Lebanon, attorney member; Harold Berkheiser, Lebanon, public member; and Curtis Martin, Palmyra, farmer member.
  • Accept the resignation of Amanda Guzman from the board of the Lebanon County Commission for Women. 
  • Grant real estate tax exemptions to four fully disabled veterans or their family members.
  • Approve the minutes of their May 30 special meeting, the treasurer’s report, and various personnel transactions. As part of personnel transactions, the commissioners agreed to amend an action taken at their May 16 meeting. At that time, the commissioners voted to approve on-call pay for county sheriffs from 2021 through 2023. The amendment on Thursday, to remove two deputy sheriffs who terminated their employment with the county prior to the payment agreement being ratified by the commissioners in mid-May, was unanimously passed. 

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Lebanon City Authority was contributing $215,000 to Phase 1 of the John E. Wengert Memorial Park. That reference should have been to the City of Lebanon. We sincerely regret the error.

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James Mentzer is a freelance writer whose published works include the books Pennsylvania Manufacturing: Alive and Well; Bucks County: A Snapshot in Time; United States Merchant Marine Academy: In Service to the Nation 1943-2018; A Century of Excellence: Spring Brook Country Club 1921-2021; Lancaster...


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