LOWER PROVIDENCE -- Nestled within the preliminary site plan approval for the proposed American Revolution Center (ARC) granted June 23 by the board of supervisors was a $3 million contribution from the nonprofit developer (ARC) for part of the construction costs for new, on- and off-ramps to Route 422 from Pawlings Road, traffic improvements to the intersection of Pawlings and Audubon roads and the Route 363 intersection with Route 422.
The 3-2 vote of the board at a special board meeting at Arcola Intermediate School for the site plan endorsed the monetary contribution.
Supervisors' Chairman Craig Dininny, supervisors Piero Sassu and Marie Altieri voted for the preliminary plan approval and supervisors Richard Brown and Chris DiPaolo voted against it.
Dininny said ARC's president, Thomas Daly, offered the $3 million monetary contribution for the off-site traffic improvements.
"It's over and above their on-site improvements and their traffic impact fee," Dininny
said Wednesday afternoon. "It can actually be used for any and all of the areas that have been identified in the traffic study."
ARC has proposed building a three-story museum explaining the American Revolution off two-lane Pawlings Road along with a conference center with 99 hotel rooms. Neighbors of the proposed museum, officials of the Valley Forge National Historical Park, the Pennsylvania Sierra Club, the National Park Conservation Association, the Lower Providence Concerned Citizens, the Friends of Valley Forge Park and the Montgomery County commissioners have all opposed the location of the museum on the 78-acre parcel purchased by ARC for the museum project.
"It's absolutely unacceptable," said Brown. "They (ARC) are putting us on the hook for these improvements. But the number is way low. It should be $15-$20 million."
Brown said no state or federal funds were available to subsidize new road construction because state funding has been restricted to bridge reconstruction for deficient structures and road reconstruction projects.
The resolution gives Lower Providence officials the choice on which projects to direct money toward but does not obligate them to pay for all of the work, Dininny said.
"The applicant agrees to contribute a total of three million dollars ($3,000,000) in addition to the traffic improvement fee, for offsite improvements for any and all of the following as may be determined by the Board of Supervisors: (1) point of access study, engineering and design and construction of on and off ramps to U.S. 422 at its intersection with Pawlings Road, (2) intersection of Pawlings Road and Audubon Road or (3) the Route 363 intersection of the River Crossings Complex in Lower Providence Township. This contribution shall be made at the issuance of the building permit for the museum and shall be subject to a written agreement between the applicant and Lower Providence Township to be concluded in advance of final land development approval," according to the resolution.
"I was accused of negotiating that (3 million) number," Dininny said. "I carried it from the ARC folks to our solicitor. That's all I did. It was not a negotiation whatsoever."
Dininny said that earlier estimates had pegged one off-ramp at $3 million and the township's contribution to the Schuylkill River crossing project for Route 422 at $3 million. All of the proposed projects would be more than $10.5 million.
However the National Park Service officials have said they were unwilling to contribute land for either ramp, he said.
Road improvements at the intersection of Pawlings and Audubon roads would affect the Old Union Church, affiliated with St. Paul's Church in Oaks, at the intersection.
"It needs to be spelled out that the resolution says ARC's responsibility is to do on-site improvements and to pay a traffic impact fee," Dininny said. "We (Lower Providence) are not building it. ARC will do the construction, design and engineering from the $3 million contribution."