Coaldale Borough Council is taking back the operations and maintenance of its complex building from the commission that has been managing it since the 1980s.
Following a lengthy discussion at a public meeting last week, council agreed to send a letter to the three-person Coaldale Complex Commission giving notice that the borough will now manage the building and collect the rent from its tenant, Pathstone, which administers the Carbon County Head Start program.
The letter was also sent to Pathstone. Head Start has been housed at the complex since 1980.
Commission member Harold Watkins declined to comment on the matter until the commission has met with its lawyer, he said Friday. Efforts to reach a second member, David Hnat, were unsuccessful. The identity of the third member was unavailable Friday.
Council's discussion focused on the Complex Commission's failure to cooperate in giving council a full financial disclosure and to maintain the building. The commission is a private, nonprofit entity, not under council's control.
Watkins and Hnat attended a September council meeting, and said the lack of money prevented them from doing maintenance and repairs. The issue arose after council hired Alfred Benesch & Co. engineers in July to inspect the 88-year-old building.
`The engineers' report concluded that it would take $590,000 to properly repair the building, the former Coaldale High School, whose second floor was damaged from years under a leaking roof. The roof was replaced in 2002. The exterior also has problems, and the engineers advised putting scaffolding over the doors to prevent people from being hit by falling bricks.
The inspection was done because some council members and Mayor Richard Corkery have said the hulking building is dangerously deteriorated. On July 13, council voted, with Councilman Tom Keerans opposing, to pay Benesch $3,800 to thoroughly inspect the building for structural defects.
The Coaldale Complex stands at Sixth and Phillips streets. It was built in 1922 as the borough high school. The borough acquired it in 1974, after the Panther Valley School District was formed, uniting high schools in Coaldale, Summit Hill, Nesquehoning and Lansford.