By Rick Hiduk
(Also published in the Rocket-Courier)
New signage for borough parks and forms for their use by the public were approved during a rather lengthy meeting of the Laceyville Borough Council on Tuesday night that was stalled by an executive session. Parks and recreation chairman Henry Laboranti suggested last month that the borough needed some way to keep track of those who are using Donovan Park on the opposite side of the Susquehanna River and occasional kayakers who want to camp overnight along the river bank.
The new signs with white lettering on a dark background will be erected adjacent to existing signs and will better define rules of engagement and the need to register via forms that can be procured in several ways. The Donovan Park sign, for example, explains that the park may only be used from dawn to dusk, preregistration is required for events, and that participants and visitors are subject to Laceyville Borough’s laws and ordinances.
Camping is allowed only from April through October and is limited to four days and three nights. Both signs list the phone number for Laboranti, who will provide registration forms at reasonable hours. The forms will be available at the borough office during regular business hours, and police officer Kevin Costello will also carry a limited number of forms with him.
In addition to a DCNR grant that will be used to begin a master site development plan for Donovan Park, Laboranti is looking into addition grant opportunities for the purchase and installation of playground equipment.
Franklin Street Bridge Addressed
Marty Malone, a consulting engineer from P. Joseph Lehman Associates of Altoona made a presentation to the council concerning the 30-foot bridge on Franklin Street that was closed earlier this year. His firm specializes in securing grants for the replacement of spans deemed structurally deficient by PennDOT. He related that the variety of avenues the firm seeks can reduce the financial burden on the municipality and speed up the replacement process. Malone (above, left) maintained that his company makes no money on a project until the municipality enters a contractual agreement to have the work done.
State and federal money might be used, he explained, as well as liquid fuel and Act 13 funds. Another option Malone suggested was a 10-year, low-interest loan from the PA Infrastructure Bank managed by PennDOT.
Borough council president Randy Brigham asked if the company also helps find funding for the renovation or demolition of bridges, noting that replacing the bridge really isn’t a big priority for the borough.
“We’ve hardly even hiccuped since we closed the bridge,” Brigham remarked.
Mayor Phil Brewer agreed that the lack of industry in that part of town and the fact that school buses no longer cross the span more or less negated the need for the bridge. “It really doesn’t get you to the hub of town,” Brewer stated. “It wouldn’t be a terrible inconvenience if we didn’t have a bridge there.”
The council lit up though at the suggestion that the structure be converted into a pedestrian bridge, which Malone said could also be supported by grants and state money.
“It keeps a small community together to have people on foot,” Brewer said of the latter idea.
Council approved a “gentleman’s agreement” that would allow Malone’s company to take a look at the bridge, consider the options for its future and look for potential funding streams.
Water Shut-Off Threat Successful
Council was pleased to announce that public threats to shut off water service to delinquent customers, followed up by direct mailings to property owners brought down the number of people whose service had to be cut to four. Those shutoffs were completed on Tuesday.
In other water news, council discussed options for separating a water line that runs through the residence of Jose Larrynaga and on to an apartment building. The two structures were once part of the same property, hence the unusual installation. Larrynaga has expressed multiple reasons for having the work done as soon as possible, including fluctuations in water pressure because his house sits lower than the apartments. Bob Clark & Sons Excavating has been consulting the borough on ways to perform the split, and council agreed to seek a cost estimate before getting back to the property owners.
Council member Christy Fassett reported that USDA funds are available for a new tank for the reservoir, and that she just needs to get the appropriate paperwork to the agency to get the work started.
In addition to an undisclosed personnel matter, council decided during the executive session to accept a bid from Brungess Mountain Lawncare for mowing around the borough’s three exit signs along Route 6 and the area around the river bridge on the Laceyville side. The bids were opened for the public prior to the executive break. Shey Sterling of Laceyville Lawncare was already approved by the council to cut grass in other areas of town, including Donovan Park. The signs and bridge had to be bid separately, as they had previously been maintained by the former Laceyville Business Association.