Another option for Paradise covered bridge
BY JONATHAN PRESSMAN, Correspondent
An aging covered bridge in Paradise Township has a possible new benefactor who could provide a new home for the historic structure.
The Herr's Mill Bridge, which was built in 1844, has sustained damage from numerous storms, including a tornado that struck the area late last year.
In its current condition, the bridge over Pequea Creek is unlikely to withstand the next big storm and is at risk to be damaged beyond repair or else be completely destroyed by flooding from the creek.
The bridge is owned by local resident Brian Kopan, who also owns adjacent Mill Bridge Village Camp Resort. Kopan is willing to donate the bridge to a private party, though moving the bridge will be both costly and complicated.
Estimates to repair the bridge have been as high as $1 million.
Now, Manor Township resident and Country Barn Market owner Jim Stauffer has proposed to have the bridge moved to his property, where he would assume full responsibility for the costs of transporting and repairing the span.
The Paradise board of supervisors, headed by Chairman Don Ranck, had previously proposed relocating the 169-year-old bridge to the township's park, where it would be utilized for private parties and maintained by the township.
Ranck has been as equally spirited in his support of preserving the bridge as Stauffer, and both have been working to ensure that the bridge is safely relocated.
"It was built in 1844 and served the township for a long time, so we'd like to see it stay" said Ranck. "Our policy has been that if someone pays for lifting it, and moving it, and restoring it, we'll maintain it as a township in the township park."
Yet moving the bridge has proven to be no easy task. The 178-foot double arch is already in dire need of repairs and would require a 350-ton crane to move it. If the bridge proves to be transportable, other considerations would have to be taken into account, including measures of safety, and the $8,000 daily rental fee for the crane.
As of now, no repairs or changes can be made to the bridge so long as it remains on private property, though if the township obtains possession, public funding could become a possibility.
"The proposal made by a restorer was that if we take possession of it as a township then we could apply for public funds to fix it up," Ranck said. "Whether those funds are available now, we don't know, but there's no public funds that can be used as long as it's on private property."
In its current location, the bridge is set too low, and even if funding were to be made available through donations, the bridge would need to be raised prior to performing any renovations.
As it is now, high water caused by drenching rain has, at times, can turn the bridge into a dam, sending floodwater onto the campground.
Regardless of where the bridge goes, all three parties involved remain interested in restoring the bridge and preserving it as a piece of history.
"I think most of the people who have seen it there want it to stay," Ranck said. "It's just finding the money, and the time, and the effort it takes to get it done."
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