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Dams repair change okayed

Published May 20. 2010 05:00PM

The original plans for the repairs to the Owl Creek dams have hit a small stumbling block, but Jennifer Kowalonek, the project engineer from Alfred Benesch & Company, explained that the fix for the problem will actually eliminate some of the other issues that had come up with the initial proposal.

"The original design plan included a 190 foot wide auxiliary spillway on the north side of the lower dam," she explained.

However, this would also have required the borough to get an easement for the adjacent property.

Kowalonek added that during normal flooding, the water would be contained on borough property, but in the event of a 100 year flood or greater, the water could overflow and require the easement.

Kowalonek said that they had approached the property owner, RGC Development, and their representative Robert Ciccone, indicated that he would be willing to work with the borough; however, an agreement has not been reached.

Under these initial plans, the pavilion, restroom, and storage facilities at the Owl Creek Reservoir would also have to be moved.

Due to the critical timing of the project, Kowalonek proposed another solution.

"We decided to evaluate a second option of armoring the dam with articulated concrete block," she said.

Originally, this option was not considered because it would cost approximately $50,000 more than the original proposal; however, Kowalonek said that going through the process of getting the easement could get expensive, as well.

In addition, the second proposal would not require the relocation of any of the buildings in the area.

Council approved the proposal to proceed with the changes.

"If we can avoid putting water on someone else's property, that's a good thing," said council president Micah Gursky.

In other business, council approved the request from the Tamaqua American Legion to hold the annual Memorial Day parade on Monday, May 31, beginning at 9 a.m. and concluding with a ceremony at Odd Fellows Cemetery. Council also approved all of the proposed dates for all of the borough's fire company block parties.

Council approved the submission of an application for grant funding in the amount of $150,000 to the USDA to purchase municipal vehicles.

Councilman Ken Smulligan said that the borough's fleet is aging and any money that could be gotten would be a benefit.

The grant requires a 45 percent match from the borough, but Gursky said that would enable the borough to get almost two for one.

Council hired Joseph P. Bernathy as a full-time wastewater treatment plant operator. It was noted that out of 60 applicants for the position, only six of them actually had the required waste water treatment operator license.

Council approved the installation of a "No Parking This Side" and a "Children at Play" sign on the north side of Arlington Street, near the intersection of Arlington and Federal streets.

Gursky announced that the South Ward neighborhood committee had received an additional $125,000 in grant money to continue with the development of a community center.

However, the borough did not get funding for the proposed parking lot at Hunter and Spruce streets. "We're back at square one," said Gursky. "We need to talk about it. If council or the community has any suggestions, let us know."

The borough also acquired a Pine Street property during a recent judicial sale.

"It's not our intention to own it," said Gursky. "Hopefully, it will give us the opportunity to sell it to someone who is looking for a nice home."

Council also discussed holding off on the proposed demolition of a property at 311 Orwigsburg St. Councilman John Trudich indicated that there may be a party interested in purchasing the home and rehabilitating it.

Council discussed advertising the property for sale, but holding the deed in escrow until the improvements to the property are made.

"You don't have closing until the requirements are met. If the agreement is breached, that's it," explained borough solicitor Michael Greek.

Council also heard from resident Joe Bickleman, of Lafayette Street, who raised concerns about the condition of Rock Alley and brought up a need to trim the trees and bushes in the area of the steps between Trinity Church and the Citizens Fire Company.

Bickleman also questioned the condition of the streetscape sidewalks.

"There are at least 15 cracks in that sidewalk already," he said. According to the borough, the sidewalks were under warranty for one year and have been in place about two years.

Council also questioned bills that the borough has received from the engineering firm, Gannett and Flemming, related to the 309 bridge project.

In one instance, the principal engineer on the project has billed the borough $175 per hour for 31 hours.

Trudich said, "the state is replacing this bridge, they should take responsibility for it. Why should we pay for it?"

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