Council proceeding with Pleasant Row repairs
Liz Pinkey/times news Corporal Dwayne Hacker, left, and Mayor Christian Morrison, second from right, accept $500 from Boyer's Market to be used for drug enforcement activities in the community. Making the presentation were Shelly Young, second from left, front end manager, and Mike Casella, right, store manager. The money is collected by Boyer's for parking space rentals in their parking lot and then donated back to community organizations. Morrison called the program "win/win for everyone."
Following an inspection by borough engineers, Alfred Benesch, Tamaqua Borough Council has decided to proceed with emergency repairs to the borough's Pleasant Row.
"They feel that it's a serious situation that should be addressed as soon as possible," said borough manager Kevin Steigerwalt.
Disagreement over who's responsible for the cost and repairs of the project has stalled the issue. The borough has yet to reach an agreement with the Reading and Northern Railroad, owners of the property.
"We've been back and forth with the railroad for some time," said Steigerwalt, "That street is going to collapse."
Council awarded its annual heating oil contract to the lowest bidder, Fegley Oil Company. Fegley submitted two bids, one for a fixed price per gallon of $2.39 and one for a floating price of $0.145 per gallon, which was the one approved by council. Steigerwalt explained that the floating price is a fixed markup over what the company is paying for the oil from the refinery.
"We have been using the floating price in recent years," he said.
Steigerwalt also notified council that there had been no bids received for the property at 311 Orwigsburg St., which was put up for auction earlier this month. Council elected to proceed with the original plans to demolish the structure.
Additionally, several of the projects for which the borough has applied for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, have been questioned by the Department of Community Economic Development (DCED).
Steigerwalt said that the request to fund a cardiac monitor for the Tamaqua Ambulance Association was turned down because it serves surrounding areas, in addition to the borough.
Also under question is the proposed paving project for Hazel Street. Steigerwalt said a similar project for Owl Creek Road was also questioned. Since there is a community facility located along the route, however, it was given the OK.
Council approved minimum municipal obligation certifications for both the nonuniformed and police employee pension plans, in the amount of $100,920 and $178,543, respectively. The motion raised questions about how and where the borough will get the money to meet the obligation.
"Where are we getting this money from?" asked Councilman John Trudich. "Our budget is broke. We can't keep borrowing money."
Councilman Tom Cara indicated that there may be money coming from the state.
"We have our fingers crossed," he said.
Mayor Christian Morrison said the borough has made changes to try to keep costs down. A recent move to consolidate the pension plans under one managing company is an example of those changes.
"We haven't just been sitting on our hands," said Morrison.
Councilman Brian Connely requested that the neighborhood, downtown, and historic district committee meet with the Historic Architectural Review Commission (HARC) to discuss some inconsistencies in permits that have been granted by the commission. Connely specifically referred to a request that was submitted to HARC for the water authority garage regarding blocking some windows.
"That request was denied, and now a business across the street is doing exactly what we wanted to do," he said. "We were turned down for something that would have saved taxpayers money."
Council President Micah Gursky agreed.
"They do need to be enforced consistently," he said.
Connor Veglia, a Boy Scout and resident of Tamaqua, and his father, Brian, also presented information regarding a proposed fundraiser for Connor's Eagle Scout project. Veglia proposes to set up coffee break stations along SR309, similar to those that are set up along the interstates, during Memorial and Labor Day weekends.
He is seeking donations from the community to help raise approximately $10,000 that will be used to build a picnic area at one of the area's recreation facilities.
In other business, council:
• hired Joseph Bernathy as a full-time wastewater treatment plant operator, effective Oct. 7, which is the end of his probation period;
• hired Joseph David as a part-time police officer;
• heard from planning commission member Tony Rodrigue, who requested that his group be allowed to consult with the borough's solicitor regarding a proposed development in the Owl Creek area. Council agreed that legal advice should be sought;
• appointed Building Inspection Underwriters of Pennsylvania Inc. and ARRO Engineering as commercial/industrial building code inspectors;
• accepted the resignation of Pauline Boettger from the Bungalow Pool Commission;
• received a $500 donation from Boyer's Market for the police department.