by Jonathan Weaver
Revitalization efforts will continue in Downtown Kittanning and Kittanning Borough Council members have pledged to be more involved in future decisions.
Last week, Borough Council members were concerned with inlet changes at the intersection with Market and McKean Streets (near the spot of the former-Allen’s Drug Store) and another relocated near the Rosebud Mining training facility.
Less than three minutes into the special meeting, a majority of the five council members in attendance voted to pay M&B Services of Clarion more than $98,700 based on work performed and after consensus that workers were not at-fault. The official vote was 4-1, with Councilman Ange Turco in opposition.
Council President Randy Cloak led follow-up discussion with Senate Engineering Principal Engineer Bill Braun Wednesday.
“It’s my understanding that that drain was put in in the last 10 years or so by the State because of that specific issue – by removing it, we’re creating an issue that was solved not too long ago,” Cloak said.
Braun said the bump-out was moved to catch water coming from the Armstrong County Courthouse and also ensures water is not stagnant in front of ADA ramps.
“I talked to the designer (Ohio-based engineer EG&G, Inc.) and I’ve looked at this extensively, looked at the detailed elevations. In my opinion, it works,” Braun said. “It will drain fine – it’s hard to slope in front of the ADA ramps because of the federal requirements for the slope of the ramp, but they’ve sloped the pavement enough to get the water to come up North McKean.
“I’ve witnessed it probably three times during rain storms now in existing paving conditions. The paving is proposed to help the water even go up more along North McKean.”
Turco disagreed and said he was “very unhappy” because of a drain half its size in the 100-block of North McKean that he didn’t think would be able to contain the water flow.
Borough Councilman David Croyle stood behind Braun as long as driving conditions do not deteriorate during normal rain showers or snowfall.
“If this winter we do have an issue, what is Senate Engineering going to do to stand behind this? Since you are our engineering company, I definitely hold you responsible that if there’s a problem and it has to be changed,” Croyle said. “As long as you said ‘We’re going to stand behind it,’ I’m 100 percent with you.
“If we had a standard we’re been used to, I just want that standard continued.”
Cloak also had faith in Braun based on his prior experience with the company.
Braun said issues could arise due to ice build-up or PennDOT paving, but said Senate Engineering would inspect work completed to bear the brunt of responsibility, in Croyle’s and Turco’s opinion. Braun agreed with Borough Solicitor Ty Heller that designs are to accommodate foreseeable events.
Cloak also addressed a concern regarding aesthetic work along the 300 block of Market Street.
“We were originally told this was going to be an aesthetics project and was to create a uniform appearance to Market Street – which I don’t think anyone disagrees with,” Cloak said. “The problem comes when things begin to be removed.”
Cloak explained that nearly two months ago, Bellas submitted notice that the heated sidewalk outside Rosebud Mining would no longer be able to be brick-lined due to the basement extending underneath. However, PennDOT officials measured the area before the October 6 regular meeting and said the sidewalk indeed would need to be replaced to meet ADA requirements.
“Everything needs to be lined with bricks. It needs to be done,” Cloak said. “We didn’t start this project for us to piecemeal where we wasted millions of dollars to beautify Kittanning and create a uniform appearance except for this place and that place. That’s not going to fly.”
Cloak recognized and appreciated the County’s efforts to continue this project after the Kittanning Cottages were built on the former-IUP property with grant funds, but said Borough Council now wants “a seat at the table” during future discussion.
“It’s issues like this that indicate why it’s so vitally-important for members of Council to have a seat at the table – not only for meetings to discuss whats going on (but) also at meetings where we’re deciding what we’re going to do,” Cloak said.
Braun agreed current discussions include replacing the sidewalk due to “a plethora of issues,” as County Planning and Development Community Division Director Jennifer Bellas described.
Armstrong County Department of Economic Development Executive Director Michael Coonley said variations may exist throughout all phases of the project due the goal is to be as aesthetically-similar as possible.
In the future, Borough Council members will also meet with engineers to discuss future traffic flow concerns.