Penns Valley

Gregg Township residents voice opposition to Penns Cave Road proposal

PennDOT representatives prepared a map of the area in question in the proposal.
PennDOT representatives prepared a map of the area in question in the proposal.

Residents voiced their opposition to a state Department of Transportation proposal concerning Penns Cave Road at a public hearing Thursday night at the Old Gregg School.

PennDOT representative Randy Albert presented the proposal — which was explained as a possible solution to safety concerns — at the Gregg Township Board of Supervisors meeting on Oct. 20.

The idea would deal with the section of road starting at the Y where Penns Cave Road — currently state owned — meets Ridge Road and up to state Route 192. PennDOT would consider turning part of that section back over to Gregg Township through the Highway Transfer “Turnback” Program, as previously reported.

PennDOT would propose a cul-de-sac at the sharp turn on the aforementioned section of Penns Cave Road, as previously reported, and then the rest of the road to Route 192 would be “vacated” to Penn’s Cave and Wildlife Park.

Penn’s Cave property wouldn’t receive any money but would have to deed over land for the turnaround. Ridge Road could either remain a township road or PennDOT could “adopt” it, as previously reported.

The public hearing on Thursday was an opportunity for residents to talk to several PennDOT representatives, including Albert, one-on-one about the plan. Residents were then able to make comments on the proposal.

About 50 people were in attendance, and a dozen voiced their opinions — most in opposition, as was the case at the October meeting.

Robert Breon said that there’s no benefit. It’s a snub to the people who live there.

“This is a self-inflicted problem from Penn’s Cave,” he said.

Donald Albertson echoed that sentiment, saying he has a “philosophical issue” with the commonwealth and township aiding a private enterprise with a problem it created.

It’s going to increase response time for emergency vehicles, said Doug Young, chief of the Gregg Township Volunteer Fire Company.

Mike Lesniak also mentioned the use of Penns Cave Road by fire trucks.

When seconds count, why take minutes, he said.

Lesniak added that he doesn’t see how the proposal would benefit the township or the residents.

If this is a safety issue, putting more traffic on Ridge Road is going to affect more people and be more trouble, said Brandon Ripka.

Penn’s Cave CEO and property owner Russ Schleiden said people who visit Penn’s Cave walk all over the road, without realizing that it’s not a private road.

Something needs to be done before someone gets hit, he said, adding that there have been many close calls.

Joel Myers, board chairman, said the board wants to look at the economics because the turnback would be advantageous to the township.

But, he said, the board will weigh the comments and concerns.

The Jan. 3 Board of Supervisors meeting is the earliest a decision could be made, Myers said.

If the board rejects the proposal, PennDOT will go back to the drawing board, Myers said.

Residents can submit written comments about the proposal to the township secretary through Dec. 23. Those comments will be sent to PennDOT.

Sarah Rafacz: 814-231-4619, @SarahRafacz