Fate of geothermal system concerns TAWC

The final disposition of the geothermal system located near Clark Street is still a point of concern for the Transit Authority of Warren County.

And it is looking into what can be done about it.

The Geothermal Energy Systems LLC property in question is located between the former Insert Molding Technologies building and the Allegheny River. According to the state Department of State’s record of corporate registration, Robert P. Yoder Sr. is president of Geothermal Energy Systems LLC.

The geothermal system provides water for heating and cooling, as well as other non-drinking water, to TAWC.

TAWC Director John Aldrich told the authority board at its meeting last Thursday afternoon that he has met with Solicitor Andrea Stapleford and “spoke to her about our concerns. (I) also talked to a couple of Bob Yoder’s employees in town, one that maintains the building itself.”

The geothermal system property was up for tax sale last year and county records show taxes of $19,805 owed on the geothermal property.

“I think he (Yoder) will do what he has done in the past… walk in a day or two before and pay the taxes,” Aldrich said.

But if he doesn’t pay the taxes, the property will go to judicial sale.

Under judicial sale, the county starts the bidding at an amount that will reimburse its costs for preparing the property for sale advertising and a title search go into that amount. Other than that, the property is sold free and clear.

Could TAWC buy it at judicial and manage the system?

Aldrich said he talked to PennDOT about that issue and “they’re not too excited about us getting into the water business.”

In addition to TAWC, the system serves ErieBank and three buildings owned by Yoder.

“I think things will go on as is,” said Aldrich, noting that he is “a little bit worried. This guy (Yoder), (you) don’t know what he is going to do.”

He suggested the City of Warren could possibly take possession at judicial sale and may have the resources to expand the system.

“As far as the transit authority taking over,” Aldrich said he is “not sure I would want the liability.”

“Our big concern is the heating and cooling of this building is dependent on that system,” said Chairman Tom Hessley.

Aldrich told the Times Observer in April that TAWC doesn’t really have a back-up heating and cooling system, but “we do have a couple boilers that we run off gas. We could probably get by on those.”

In other news, ridership on the fixed route program in May was up approximately 100 from April, but down approximately 250 riders compared to last May. Ridership on the shared ride system was down nearly 800 riders from April to May, but about 100 riders above May of last year.

The board also elected officers for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1. Linda Swanson was elected as chairman; Tom Hessley, vice chairman; Jamie Steffan, secretary; and Bruce Williams, treasurer.