Saturday, January 24, 2009

Is Lancaster General being misled?

The School Lane Hills Neighborhood Association sent NewsLanc and others a recent TRRAAC article along with the caveat "The Association is not the author of the attached information and is not responsible for its content." The article can be read in its entirety at Excerpts are as follows:


TRRAAC has been investigating the sources of public funding for the $ 46 million project to relocate and expand the Norfolk Southern Dillerville Rail Yard. … In early December, representatives of TRRAAC met with officials from Lancaster General Hospital and reiterated the request for access to the applications submitted for governmental funding of the project.

In a letter to TRRAAC dated December 15, 2008, Thomas Beeman, the President and CEO of the Lancaster General wrote:

"I believe your request was based upon a concern that our funding applications contained different information than what we have previously represented. I can assure this is not the case and information contained in these applications is consistent with material made public in previous meetings and on the project's web site."…

Through a Right to Know Law request, TRRAAC has obtained a copy of the application for PennDOT funding. Contrary to the representations of Mr. Beeman, we can assure our members that the information in that application is not consistent with public statements from the project partners.

The application was denied because F&M is not eligible to seek the Capital Budget's $10 million under the Rail Freight Grant program. Only a railroad may make the request. Moreover, the information provided was "troublesome" according to PennDOT officials we met with recently…rather than the 750 jobs referenced by the Governor, the application only identifies 58 jobs to be maintained and 12 jobs to be created. ..

The application identified other sources of governmental funds that have never been identified to the public by the project partners including:

• $700,000 grant under the Rail Freight Assistance Program previously awarded by PennDOT for "engineering design services";

• $1 million request for Growing Greener II funds now pending before the Department of Environmental Protection

• $ 1 million request for Growing Greener II funds now pending before the Department of Community and Economic Development

• $ 2 million loan from the Governor's Business in our Sites (BIOS) economic development program (cannot be approved until Lancaster General Hospital repays the $ 2 million BIOS loan obtained as part of the cleanup of the Armstrong property)

• $ 3.7 million requested from the federal Department of Transportation described as Congressional grant submitted;

• $ 5 million request from Federal Railroad Administration (originally this line item was only $2 million, but following PennDOT's denial of the $ 9.3 million request PennDOT applied on behalf of the project partners for $ 5 million from FRA);
$ 1 million request from federal Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration