ephrata library

The outside of Ephrata Public Library on Thursday, July 8, 2021.

When: Ephrata Borough Council meeting, March 7.

What happened: Borough Council discussed a proposal by the Lancaster County Redevelopment Authority to place a mobile hygiene unit for homeless people at Ephrata Public Library. Council took no action, as votes are generally not taken at workshop meetings the first Monday of each month.

Why it’s important: The hygiene unit would take up four or five parking spaces and provide needy and homeless people with medical and mental health services, housing resources and shower facilities. It would operate on Thursdays 9–11:30 a.m. The redevelopment authority operates mobile showers at four other locations around Lancaster County; however, none are at libraries.

Reaction: Council members were quick to say they are not against the idea of a mobile shower unit in Ephrata, but they said the library is not the proper spot. Council suggested the authority look at land next to the library owned by the Northern Lancaster Hub.

Quotable: “The concept of it? Absolutely,” said committee Chair Gregory Zimmerman. “But not at the library.”

Background: Borough Council’s Development Activities Committee reported its recommendation that council reject the proposal. Earlier this month committee members voted 2-1 to recommend that council reject the mobile shower unit because of its location. Councilman Tim Barr was the only committee member who favors the unit at the library. He said he will support the proposal when it comes up for a full council vote. He likes the site because the library has other resources for those “who might need a leg-up” with things like children’s hygiene and looking for work. “It would also help build up personal well-being, so I really don’t see a problem with it being at the library,” Barr said. He added that he will vote affirmative even if it is placed elsewhere in the borough.

What’s next: Council could take a formal vote on the mobile shower proposal when it meets again March 14.

In other business: Council addressed Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s request to replace tubular aluminum railings that line both sides of the Oak Street Bridge. Borough officials are miffed that PennDOT, which owns a bridge on West Main and Fulton streets with the same railings, has no plans to address the railings on that bridge. The borough’s cost to replace railings would exceed $400,000 — more than the entire amount for all street repairs in the borough budget. “They want us to fix ours, but they won’t fix theirs,” said council President Thomas Reinhold. Borough officials said the amount of traffic passing over the Oak Street bridge is considerably less than the one on West Main and moves across at slower speeds. “It’s ludicrous,” Mayor Ralph Mowen said of PennDOT’s request.

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