Ford City Planners Has Vision for the Future

Various committees gave reports on Monday night to Ford City Borough Council with input from the community.

Ford City has operated on a comprehensive plan that was developed back in 1995. It’s time for that plan to be revised.

Ford City Planning Commission spokesman Richard Wakefield said there was potential grant money available to bring in a company that could meet with residents and stakeholders (people who own businesses in the community) and develop a plan of what Ford City should look like over the next 20 years. Therefore, the commission began taking proposals from companies that perform that type of service.

Planning Commission Member Richard Wakefield recommends hiring Pittsburgh-based Fourth Economy Consulting to document the vision for Ford City’s future.

“We started working with Council, we included members from the county planning group, we brought in DCED (Department of Community Economic Development) people to get their advice on how to approach this. They not only gave us support on how to do it, but also possible vendors. Jim Milligan took the lead on putting together our statement of work, which we turned into a request for proposals. Out of 20 vendors, four replied back. We had a measurement system on how we judged the proposals. We took the four down to two and met face to face with them. Kristen Angehr checked their background, reference, and financial records to make sure they were who they said they were.”

Wakefield recommended Council hire Pittsburgh consulting firm Fourth Economy.

“We saw some of the projects they have worked on. They deliver a very good end product.”

Wakefield said the company could have the plan finalized in about a year, including a new set of zoning ordinances. He outlined the procedure.

“Step one – they will come in and get some background on our town. Then they will start creating the vision by gathering from the community on what it sees Ford City being 15 to 20 years from now. After data is gathered, they create six key points.”

Wakefield projected that green space and riverfront development and usage would be among the concerns over the next 20 years.

“When it is done, we will have a plan that has measurable and executable items. We will be able to track it and ask ourselves if we are making progress toward those goals.”

He said that once the plan is developed, zoning ordinances are changed to support the plan.

Council President Carol Fenyes said the request for funding to pay for the development of the comprehensive plan has been signed off by DCED and sent to the State. There is no time table for when the State will give authority for the work to begin, although Fenyes anticipates it soon. The total grant amount is $92,875 with $83,506 coming from DCED and Ford City matching it with $9,279.

In addition to the comprehensive plan, Novak Consulting had recommended that Ford City develop a Fleet Advisory Committee that would track vehicles that it owns.

The Fleet Advisory Committee is made up of area citizens including: Richard Wakefield, Kristen Angehr, James Milligan, Andy Tylinski, and Ford City Police Chief Michael Greenlee. The group began in mid-2016 and meet quarterly.

Andy Tylinski recommended Ford City Council consider the concept of adding UTV “golf cart type” vehicles to its fleet. He is part of a fleet advisory committee that is studying vehicle usage in the borough.

Tylinski gave their first report to Council on Monday night.

“We started looking at the vehicles, keeping track of the mileage of the vehicles, service costs, and determine which vehicles might be getting to the end of their service life. In addition to suggesting replacement, there can also be alternatives for uses of that vehicle.”

As an advisory committee, suggestions are made to Council, but Council is under no obligation to act on them.

“We’re keeping track of the vehicles better, and nobody actually did that before. It has really been helpful so far with understanding what we need to do – which vehicles are used the most and which ones are not. Eventually I hope to go to each guy that drives the vehicle and ask why they prefer one vehicle to another. What would they like to be different?”

At 18 months into compiling their information, Tylinski said they are “feeling their way through it.”

“Through discussion with the council, discussion with the guys that work for the Borough, and Chief Greenlee, we put together some recommendations: consider removing two of the older trucks; if they don’t want to replace both, then get rid of one – the dump truck needs to be replaced with a comparable model with an automatic transmission since many people today can’t operate a manual transmission; the 2011 Crown Victoria unmarked police car needs replaced with a newer model – either get rid of it, or keep it for other uses in the borough such as code or parking enforcement.”

In addition to recommendations for current vehicles, Tylinski introduced a new concept to Council.

“In looking at Indiana Borough, their borough workers were driving around in golf carts. It’s an ingenious idea! They are more versatile, more agile. So I looked into different models by Toro and John Deere. They are incredible! You can plow sidewalks, they have beds that dump for mulch, pick up garbage in the park, trail maintenance, borough building maintenance. Right now, borough workers are using a lawn mower with a front sweeper to sweep snow, but that only can do so much. Last year they had too much snow and they broke the drive shaft. If you have a UTV with four-wheel drive, it will take a lot more punishment. I would like to see us bring a couple of demo models over the summer and see if they will work for what we need. There are so many attachments you can put on them like lawn mowers, brushes, sweepers, plows, salt spreaders. In the long run, it would be cheaper with less repairs. Many of the golf courses use carts like these for years with minimal repairs.”

Tyson Klukan gave the report for the Public Works Committee that also suggested replacement of the dump truck.

“We recommend that we try to obtain a USDA grant for a new dump truck. This would replace our 2007 Dodge dump truck. There are issues with the truck that we are aware of. We will take this information back to our committee to analyze data from the fleet management committee.”

There was no action by Council, but said the report would be taken into consideration.