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Carlisle takes step to combat flooding in downtown area

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Carlisle Borough and Dickinson College officials recently approved the hire of BL Companies, a transportation and civil engineering firm, to prepare a preliminary design for stormwater management at Cherry Street and West Louther Street.

CARLISLE — In conjunction with Dickinson College, Carlisle Borough recently approved the hire of BL Companies, a transportation planning and civil engineering firm, to prepare a preliminary design for stormwater management improvements at a notoriously flood-prone zone in the borough.

“Our plans are coming up with a concept of the structures and solutions that could potentially be utilized in that area,” said Mark Heeb, the firm’s senior project manager. “It really follows a new way of managing stormwater, because it looks at stormwater as an asset, not a problem, and thinking of creative and sustainable ways to use that asset.”

The borough council also authorized the submission of an application for a Growing Greener grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection that will “hopefully fund the construction of whatever is designed,” according to Borough Manager Matthew Candland.

“We’re partnering with Dickinson College, trying to solve a stormwater management problem over on West Louther and North Cherry, which is right next to their property,” he said. “They’re having some flooding problems over there.”

Elliot Shibley will manage the project for BL Companies.

According to the DEP’s website, the grant is issued by the state and allocated by the DEP for watershed restoration and protection, abandoned mine reclamation, and abandoned oil and gas well plugging projects.

Mark Mallarich, the borough’s engineer, said the reason behind hiring BL Companies was to “price out a conceptual plan than can be used to help strengthen the application.”

“The Growing Greener grant is to work on one important portion of an overall stormwater strategy we are developing for the watersheds in the Carlisle area, including the LeTort Spring Run in this particular case,” Councilman Sean Shultz said.

The LeTort has been a special focus for the borough because of its designation as an Exceptional Value, High Quality, and Class A Wild Trout stream.

So DEP grant funding prioritizes for projects that decrease stormwater impact on healthy watersheds like the LeTort.

“There were two priority projects identified by the LeTort Spring Run Stormwater Cooperative Project Final Report that are adjacent to Dickinson College,” Shultz said. “So, we decided that Dickinson College, with its admirable focus on sustainability and reducing detrimental impact on our natural resources, might be an enthusiastic private partner on these high priority projects.”

According to Shultz, the borough and the college would split the engineering costs for stormwater management improvements in response to the flooding at the intersection of West Louther and North Cherry streets.

“The grant, plus the partnership with Dickinson College, would keep the financial impact to the borough under budget, and help us preserve the valuable resource that is the LeTort Spring Run for generations to come,” Shultz said.

The Growing Greener grant application is due to the DEP by July 10, 2015.

Email Tyler at TMiles@cumberlink.com or follow him on Twitter at @SentinelMiles.

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