by Lisa Tome
You never know what you'll uncover when working in a former railyard.
What crews working in Perryville found recently was a wall of old railroad ties.
Those ties will now temporarily hamper progress on the new town Band Shell. The shell, a permanent structure being installed as a way to attract visitors and residents to Movies in the Park and the Perryville Farmer's Market.
According to Mary Ann Skilling, the town's zoning administrator, a concert shell has been ordered for Lower Ferry Park. Currently, for town events, a portable stage is set up. By next spring, the new approximately 40 foot long and 20 feet deep, wood-framed shell will be in place.
Skilling said that the shell will be raised about two feet. It will also have an American Disabilities Act compliant ramp which will make it easier to unload instruments and equipment. The shell will also have lighting.
But when crews began digging the footers for the band shell, they ran into a problem. Digging the first three footers came off without a hitch. When they started the fourth and final footer, the problem came to light.
"We have information from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) that the site is clean. But when they dug the last hole, they found railroad ties. It looks like a wall. And we don't want to undermine the integrity of that wall," said Skilling.
So the work stopped and plan B is in progress.
"We will move it (the band shell location). We need to do underground surveying and imaging to make sure there is no other debris (underground)," said Skilling. "We had information that this is a clean site. But when we dig we find things we don't know about. This (band shell) structure needed at least three feet piers.
So that site has been abandoned.
"We will move it. It's not a big deal. We will try to make sure it's a better location," said Skilling.
The band shell was scheduled to be shipped to Perryville on December 28. It will be placed in the area while work continues, weather permitting.
"We will do whatever the weather permits. We want to have it done by the spring for events and the farmer's market. We're going to get it done," said Skilling.
The band shell is just one piece of the development of Lower Ferry Park.
The town paid for the band shell with Video Lottery Terminal local impact funds. Program Open Space is paying the tab for a comfort station (bathrooms), walkways, and benches. Those funds need to be spent by the town by June 30, 2016.
There is also a landscaping plan which will provide "color for all seasons" according to Skilling. There will also be a butterfly garden and bio-retention pond.
Skilling said that the Town of Perryville acquired the land for Lower Ferry Park in 2002. The town is working to make the most of the property. The property is a former railyard which the town has owned more than once. The parkland consists of parcels 1,3,5, and 7 of what was former Conrail property.