The Broad Top Township Supervisors learned at their monthly meeting Aug. 6 a $100,000 grant has been approved to aid the municipality in its efforts to develop senior housing in the former Defiance Elementary School.

Township Chairman Donald Hedge Jr. told fellow supervisors Donald Black and Robert S. Figard the municipality was informed that a $100,000 PHARE (Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement) grant has been earmarked toward the first phase of the proposed senior housing project. The funds, which is being channeled through the Center for Community Action (CCA), is coming from the state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).

(Also approved for $100,000 in PHARE monies is a proposed senior housing project in neighboring Wood Township, Huntingdon County, involving the former Robertsdale Elementary School.)

In late July, Wendy Melius, CCA executive director, informed the two municipalities that the PHARE funding will be used toward the first phase of the two senior housing projects. The CCA applied for the PHARE monies last fall with the support of legislators from both Huntingdon and Bedford counties.

PHARE was created in 2010 to assist with the creation, rehabilitation and support of affordable housing throughout Pennsylvania. The origins of the funding are generated by the impact fee charged on natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale region, the state’s existing Realty Transfer Tax and the National Housing Trust Fund.

Although the initial funding will be helpful to Broad Top Township, the municipality is still waiting on word about additional grant monies the CCA has applied for on the township’s behalf including the very competitive HOME Program.

Last month, the Broad Top Township Supervisors hired Ed Bellock of Roaring Spring to draw up design plans for two housing units in order to study various cost estimates for different housing unit designs.

Hedge said that the supervisors wants an idea just how much it will cost to develop a senior housing unit and to work on a back-up plan should current funding requests not be approved. “In the event no funding is approved, the township wants to be able to study other options for the utilization of the (Defiance) school, including senior housing units on the top floor of the building while utilizing the bottom part of the school for commercial use,” noted Hedge.

Although not written in stone, the township believes it can develop 10 housing units on the top floor of the school at an estimated cost of $400,000. The proposal hinges on the municipality receiving additional funding, township secretary David Thomas pointed out.

Already, the township has relocated its offices into the front of the school and is renting at least one part of the building in conjunction with a new bridge construction project now taking place in Defiance, across from the township building.

At Tuesday night’s meeting the supervisors approved a rental contract with the Bedford County Head Start Program to utilize two rooms in the school starting Aug. 19. About 37 youngsters will be using the rooms, said Hedge.

The supervisors also agreed to allow the American Red Cross to utilize the school gymnasium as an emergency shelter.

Turning to other matters Thomas reported that Trout Unlimited has completed a study of the local watershed. Initial findings in a report just released to the township indicates that the watershed supports varying species of fish thanks to the multiple acid mine discharge (AMD) remediation projects completed along many of the township streams.

“It was a very favorable report,” said the township secretary, adding that some rehab work on the streams remains, but for the most part, the once AMD-polluted streams now support various forms of aquatic life.

Supervisor Black updated the supervisors about the recent start-up of a two-mile extension of the H&BT Rail Trail from Riddlesburg to Red Cut. Using township maintenance personnel and state funding the trail extension is expected to be completed sometime this fall.

Black also reported that the next meeting of the H&BT Rail Trail Advisory Committee has been set for 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 15, in the township building in Defiance.

Also, under rail-trail business, the supervisors unanimously approved a request from an organization to conduct a fundraiser using the trail between Cypher and the Cooper Recreational Area.

In his monthly roadmaster and construction reports Hedge announced that maintenance crews have been very busy with summer paving involving numerous township roadways as well as tree-trimming projects. “We’re starting to catch up,” said the roadmaster. “We still have some spot paving and berm work to complete, it’s been a busy summer.”

Hedge also announced that work has been successfully completed on a new AMD remediation site in the area of the Pennsylvania Game Lands and Route 915. The township is also seeking reimbursement from federal and state funding sources involving the completion of two other AMD projects.

Hedge also announced that a recent sampling of streams by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in the township indicates that the streams consist of quality water thanks in part to the completion of various AMD activities.

The supervisors also learned that work on the construction of a new cell at the Sandy Run Landfill near Langdondale is scheduled for start-up soon. Township landfill inspector David Thomas will be on site as the project progresses making sure that the work adheres to permit requirements.

Ron can be reached at dnews@huntingdondailynews.com.

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