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Council blocks plan to demolish property

Published October 03. 2012 05:02PM

A plan to demolish a property at 54 Mauch Chunk St. in downtown Tamaqua has been halted by borough council's failure to approve the recommendation from the Historical Architectural Review Commission (HARC) that the building come down.

Four council members, including President Micah Gursky, David Mace, Dan Evans and John Trudich voted to deny the recommendation after borough resident Tony Rodrigue questioned the criteria that HARC had used to grant the request for demolition.

"They determined that this building was not a contributing structure, without consulting the index," said Rodrigue.

The "index" is the list of historically significant structures in the downtown that was created when the area was designated as historic. According to Rodrigue and Gursky, this particular building was included on the index.

"Someone must have thought that this building did contribute something," said Rodrigue.

Rodrigue also said that the owner of the property had not been required to show how rehabilitating the property would not be economically feasible, or "jump through the hoops" that other property owners had been required to prior to demolishing their properties.

While several council members and Rodrigue indicated that there is little doubt that the structure does need to come down, the inconsistencies in the enforcement of the HARC policies were enough stop the demolition process for now.

Council approved the renewal of the borough's insurance policies through the Seltzer Group, at an annual savings of approximately $15,000. Borough manager Kevin Steigerwalt said that the decreases were primarily due to the work of the borough's safety committee and the comp control program.

Council approved Fegley Oil as the borough's supplier of heating oil, at a floating rate of 19.5 cents over the market price. Steigerwalt said that the borough has been using the floating price, instead of a fixed price per gallon for several years and it has been working out.

Several changes in parking and traffic were approved, based on the recommendation of the committee. Council approved the final ordinance establishing part of South Patterson Street as a one-way street and establishing a stop intersection on South Patterson Street.

A handicapped parking space was denied for 17 Lafayette St. One was approved for 316 Van Gelder St. A handicap space for 231 Cedar St was relocated to the opposite side of the street. When the parking space was first granted, there was no parking on the north side of the street.

Playground warning signs will be installed on streets approaching the South Ward Playground. East Cottage Avenue will now be posted "No Parking" between Patterson and Elizabeth Streets. Council voted to advertise an ordinance establishing stop intersections for westbound traffic on Locust, Chestnut, and Walnut streets where they intersect Schuylkill Avenue. Although these are minor side streets or alleys, it was noted that people are not stopping at the intersections as required by the traffic code, and it is causing a problem.

Parking and traffic committee chair Evans also reminded people that parking within 15 feet of fire hydrants is not permitted.

Council approved a motion to take $20,763.70 in uncommitted 2008 CDBG funds and allocate $18,763.70 to the pool water slide project and $2,000 to a roof replacement project at the North and Middle Ward Playground.

They also accepted a proposal from Sports and Recreation Associates in the amount of $69,000 for the construction of the pool water slide project.

Council approved a $52,000 proposal from Police Chief Dave Mattson for the ongoing camera project. This camera will be installed at the intersection of Lehigh and Spruce streets and will allow visibility of the high school, gymnasium, and auditorium entrances.

Additionally, it could be used to view the stadium area.

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