Boro Council Hears County Rehab Plans
McConnellsburg Borough Council members heard a presentation from Fulton County Commissioner David Hoover and the county's engineer regarding the county's renovation project at council's regular meeting last Wednesday evening.
Hoover and Christopher Beauregard of CEDG Engineers outlined the county's renovations in a three-phase plan to refurbish the courthouse and an adjacent parking lot. According to Beauregard, phases one and two of the plan will include a geo-thermal heating and cooling system for the courthouse and the replacement of the bell tower. It will also include replacing windows panes with doublepane glasses, relocating restrooms on the first floor of the courthouse and replacing the stairway to the second floor.
According to the plans, the upstairs courtroom will be refurbished and new lighting will be installed. A walkway from the second floor of the courthouse is also planned to connect it with the second floor of the jail. This will allow for the use of the second floor jail area for a holding cell for prisoners on court days and for meeting space for prisoners and their attorneys. The handicapped-accessible ramp now in place at the east end of the courthouse will be extended to the sheriff's office.
In the adjacent parking lot, commissioners plan to take down the three houses owned by the county on North Second Street and pave and line the parking lot. When completed, there will be 128 parking spaces and six additional that will be handicapped-accessible, according to Hoover. The plans call for new sidewalks, lighting in the parking area, and stormwater drainage from the parking lot will be handled with an underground detention basin that will reduce the runoff to preconstruction rates of runoff or less.
In addition, McConnell Park will be given an increased elevation to make viewing events in the band shell easier. The back of the jail and exercise yard will be razed, and West Spruce Street, which runs past the jail, will be straightened and paved. Hoover said plans are already under way to save Polly Water's rose bush, which climbs the north side of the jail wall.
A portion of the county's plan brought objections from council when the engineer announced that West Spruce Street would be made one-way gong west and that the roadway out of the parking lot to the north of West Spruce Street will be closed off entirely, all to limit access on North Second Street/Route 522. Beauregard said that PennDOT prefers the limited access in such projects. However, council president Rick Buterbaugh reminded Hoover and Beauregard that only council can grant permission to make the borough's streets and/or alleys one-way and that this was not discussed or approved when the county brought the initial plans to the borough. Mayor Jim Stenger, who owns property at the west end of the parking lot, also vehemently opposed making the alley one-way and closing off the other entrance/ exit. Hoover was told the county would need to submit that plan again to the council for consideration.
Hoover concluded by saying phase three of the plan would include work on the east side of North Second Street with new sidewalks and the relocation of several offices, as well as the razing of the probation office building once that office relocated to the basement of the Neighborhood Service Center. According to Hoover, drilling of wells for the geo-thermal system could begin with six to eight weeks, and that work on the project will begin either late this year or in early spring of next year.
According to Beauregard, the plans will be forwarded to the borough's engineering firm, Keller Engineers, for its review prior to the borough's approval. LERTA approved
Council held a hearing on a proposed Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance ordinance and no public comment was provided. The ordinance allows for tax exemption on certain deteriorated industrial, commercial and other business property in the borough. The exemption applies only to the additional assessment value deemed attributable to the actual costs of improvement to the deteriorated property and not the entire property. The ordinance allows for 100 percent exemption of that additional valuation of the property for the first two years, 75 percent for the third year, 50 percent for the fourth year and 25 percent for the fifth and final year.
Following the hearing, council adopted the LERTA ordinance, ordinance number 2 of 2009, on a Mike Chilcote/Pat Frazier motion.
Council members, on a Mack Shaffer/Travis Bard motion, also asked their solicitor, Carlton Walker, to prepare a resolution for records retention for their consideration at a later meeting.
Council also authorized Fields to participate in the Federal Surplus Property program again with no cost to the borough for joining.
Paving bids opened
During other business, council opened two bids submitted for paving work in the borough. Council accepted a low bid from P&W for $18,954.05. The bid was awarded on a Bard/Frazier motion. The other bid, submitted by New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co., quoted $21,120.15 for the paving work, which includes South Monroe Avenue (adjacent to Horton's Carpet store), Pine Street to the rear of Tower Bank, west Spruce Street from First Street east for a small distance and a small portion of Cherry Street.
Borough council members also heard a presentation from Steve Thomas of the county's planning department regarding zoning and subdivision ordinances now being prepared by that office. Thomas reiterated that the borough's share of a matching grant for the work is $2,500 (or one-half of $5,000) for the zoning ordinance and $1,000 (or one-half of $2,000) for the subdivision ordinance. Thomas explained that the subdivision ordinance will likely be done in six months. He also said that the borough's zoning ordinance will be rewritten rather than updated, and that the new ordinances will be in electronic form for easier reference and transference of information. Currently, both Councilwoman Pat Frazier and borough secretary Jack Fields serve on the steering committee for the subdivision process, which also includes several other county municipalities.
Also during other business, council voted to pay Conrad Sigel actuarial costs of $3,750 for work done on the police pension fund. Sigel also informed council that its contribution to the police pension fund for 2010 will be $177,000 while in 2011, 2012 and 2013, it will be $6,000, $27,000 and $6,000, respectively.
Council voted to authorize closure of West Market Street from the square west to the alley on July 11 for the United Methodist Church carnival.
Fields announced that he has ordered 499 street signs to comply with the new requirement that lettering must be six inches on the signs. The signs will be purchased using a matching grant, and the borough's share will be $499 while the grant share will be $7,275.
Fields also informed council that insurance estimates provided for the borough's insurance policy on the Fulton House set the replacement cost of the Fulton House at $1,212,875. That figure, according to Fields, does not include any contents of the building. The insurance will cover 80 percent of the value, Fields said.
Councilwoman Frazier, a member of the Center for Community Action that serves Bedford, Huntingdon and Fulton counties, asked council members if they would be interested in hearing a presentation on funding that could be available to borough property owners for improvements on owner-occupied housing in the borough. Council agreed to hear the presentation, and Frazier agreed to arrange it.
During regular business, council authorized payment of June bills in the amount of $15,487.37. Receipts for the same period were $84,273.84. Checks were written for $114,450.10, leaving a July 1 balance of $63,580.93.
Council members present included Rick Buterbaugh, Travis Bard, Mack Shaffer, Mike Chilcote, Pat Frazier and Mayor Jim Stenger.
Borough Council meets the first Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Fulton House. The next regular meeting will be held August 5, 2009.