Water tower

This rendering of a water tower proposed for School District of Lancaster property in Lancaster Township is part of a series of shadow studies. It was included in a presentation made in November 2017. 

Lancaster Township officials say they have hit a wall with city officials on learning more about a water tower proposed near Lancaster Community Park.

“We don’t have answers, (and) as preposterous as that sounds after a year and a half, we know what you know,” township manager William Laudien said at a regular meeting of the board of supervisors Monday.

The city wants to build the water tower on property owned by the School District of Lancaster in the 900 block of Hamilton Park Drive in the township at an estimated cost of $7.75 million.

“We’ve asked from the very start that the city do two things: To demonstrate a need for the water tower and demonstrate the appropriateness of the site,” Laudien said. “They’ve done neither.”

“I disagree with that statement totally,” city director of public works Charlotte Katzenmoyer told LNP when reached for comment Tuesday.

She said city officials have demonstrated both the need for a water tower and the appropriate location of the tower’s site with township officials, as well as the district’s school board during several meetings in the past year.

Cost was not the only factor in selecting a site, Katzenmoyer said. Other factors included proximity to other residences and the ability to construct on a site.

At Monday’s township supervisors meeting, resident Elizabeth Paul asked why the district was averse to eminent domain, considering the city would still have to pay fair market value for the property along with estimated replacement costs.

“We’re all with you on that. Ask the school board,” township Supervisor Benjamin Bamford said, referencing ongoing negotiations between the district and the city to lease the land.

Supervisor Steve Elliott, who has been the unofficial liaison between the supervisors and the city, said he would “continue down the path of fact-finding ... from another direction,” including city council and the school board.

He said city officials hadn’t responded to questions “other than an email with updated figures” on miscalculated cost estimates surrounding each of the 14 sites considered for the water tower.

Cost comparison estimates showed $480,000 was unaccounted for on the original school district site, according to updated site calculations provided to LNP in July.

Katzenmoyer has said the difference in estimated cost did not change the city’s plans to pursue the site on school district property, noting it still had the lowest cost of the 14 sites.

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