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Time for Complex scaffolding to come down, official urges

Published August 10. 2011 05:01PM

At least one Coaldale councilman is frustrated with the continued presence of scaffolding at the entrances to the Coaldale Complex at Sixth and Phillips streets.

The Complex, which is the former Coaldale High School, now houses the Pathstone Carbon County Head Start program. At the urging of Councilman David Yelito and Mayor Richard P. Corkery, council last summer authorized borough engineers Alfred Benesch to do a structural study of the building. The study, released July 27, 2010, concluded that permanent repairs would cost about $590,000, including $500,000 for second floor structural rehabilitation; $30,000 for metal coping on the parapet, and $60,000 for exterior brick and stone work. That's a lot more money than the borough could afford. So last September, council had borough workers place support scaffolding under two weakened roof arches to keep them stable and over exits to protect people from falling brick or stone.

On Tuesday, Councilman Joseph Hnat said that since the scaffolding went up, no stones have fallen. It's time, he said, to consider removing the protective structures and allow the children attending the Head Start program to again use the playground, which had been surrounded by yellow caution tape because of fears that loose bricks could fall in the area.

Hnat observed that since Yelito began working at the complex, doing minor repairs and maintenance, much of the caution tape has been removed.

"I don't see anything wrong down there," Hnat said.

Further, Borough Supervisor Kenny Hankey said someone has removed the leveling blocks from under at least one of the scaffolds, and that children have been using them as monkey bars. Council agreed to install signs at the site forbidding people from tampering with the scaffolding.

Hnat suggested the borough perform whatever repair work that would be needed on the 87-year-old building. However, solicitor Michael Greek cautioned that the borough had the engineer's report, and that "if something does happen and someone gets hurt, the borough would be in a whole heap of trouble."

Greek suggested the borough get a second engineer's opinion on what work needs to be done. Hnat said he'll discuss the matter with the council's Building Committee, which consists of himself, Steve Tentylo and David Yelito.

In a related matter, council is negotiating a new lease with Pathstone.

Also on Tuesday, council discussed alternative parking for residents of lower Miner Street, which Hankey said will be repaired at some point. The work is expected to take about a day. Hnat said people could park on the fields at the Knights of Columbus.

In other matters, Councilman Andrew Girard said a new fire siren would cost between $5,000 and $8,000. He said the borough should also consider having Green's Communication of Pottsville see whether it can fix the existing siren, which has been the source of much ire among people who live near it.

The 30-year-old siren, installed in the 1970s by the federal government as a civil defense measure, was designed to emit a variety of alerts for different emergencies. However, it has for some time apparently been stuck on a shrill "attack" warning sound.

Council has considered dismantling the device. However, Fire Chief Richard Marek opposes any plans to get rid of the siren, saying it's needed to alert firefighters and the community to emergencies. Not all firefighters have pagers, which cost about $500 each, he has said.

Council last spring agreed to have Martin Electric of Walker Township look at the siren to see if the company could fix it so it would not be so loud. The company never got back to the borough.

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