by Jonathan Weaver
Some of Kittanning Borough’s largest – and bumpiest – potholes could be fixed in the coming months thanks to some State aid.
Borough Engineer Mike Malak of Senate Engineering met with Council President Randy Cloak and Mayor Kirk Atwood to discuss a plan that would alleviate some of those rough roads and presented that plan to Borough Council at their regular monthly meeting last night.
“The State has a program now where we can borrow a substantial amount of money by pledging our liquid fuels dollars. With the recent transportation bill that was passed, Kittanning Borough is expected to receive roughly 60 percent more in liquid fuels allocation than what we had in the past; so, with the ever-deteriorating condition of some of the major thoroughfares borough, it seems the only way we can address the major need of the streets we identified is to borrow,” Cloak said.
Cloak said the leaders first thought a $400,000 loan would be enough, but had to increase it to $600,000.
“I feel that it’s necessary – the conditions of the Borough streets are deplorable,” Cloak said. “We must hit some of these roads.”
Councilmen Ange Turco and David Croyle made the motion and seconded it to enable more discussion. Croyle said he listens to concerns about road conditions ‘day after day’ but was concerned with areas of Jacob Street – one of the proposed streets to be fixed – specifically due to portions of roadway that would sink even though fill was laid on top.
“We’ve got to look at this thing long-term and say if we have problems, we know the problems exist. I need you (Malak) to come back to me in feedback and say ‘This is what we got to do about it,’” Croyle said. “I just want to be walking into this with a plan-in-place to find out why they’re sinking before we start sinking money into it and letting it go down the tubes.”
Malak recognized that unknown arch culverts were not found under Walnut Street until sewer reconstruction efforts, but committed to trying to find any pre-existing conditions that would hamper paving efforts.
Senate Engineering could apply for this loan at any time, but Cloak said he would like Malak to apply as soon as possible in order to potentially-award paving bids in April so that the roadways could be fixed by May. Malak agreed with that philosophy.
“This is an attractive time to bid out for a paving project,” Malak said. “I called a few contractors to get the latest unit prices. This is the time they’re starting to get their projects together, so it should give you a nice, attractive project with competitive bids.”
Council authorized Malak to prepare bid specifications and advertise for bids with a 7-1 vote, with Croyle dissenting due to concerns that the funding might not be enough to pave the four proposed roadways.
Because of those concerns, Croyle made the motion to increase the asking amount to $700,000 – which was unanimously approved – even after Community Development Division Director Jennifer Bellas warned council members that Kittanning Borough might not be approved for either amount.
The streets proposed include all of Jacob Street (from North Water to Grant Streets), North Grant Avenue between Union Avenue and Chestnut Street and two sections of North Water Street (from Market Street to Vine Street and from Hazel Street to Montieth Street).
Mayor Atwood also discussed paving portions of North Water Street near Union and High Streets (near St. Mary’s, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Roman Catholic Church) in the future, as well as portions of North and South McKean Streets but did not include them in this current project because of separate revitalization efforts that could affect those roadways.
The loan will be paid back during the next 10 years, beginning in the 2015 budget, at 1.6 percent interest.
“Next year’s payment would be about $40,000 and then decrease about $10,000 per year until about Year 4 or 5,” Cloak said.
Councilwoman Kim Fox has discussed the success Clymer Borough in Indiana County has had with this program.
“They’re very pleased with how things went,” Fox said.
Cloak hoped this would be the beginning of a 10-year paving cycle.
In other news, members of the Council Personnel Committee along with Mayor Atwood and Borough Police Chief Bruce Mathews will interview several applicants for the job of part-time meter attendant Thursday afternoon.
Fox was concerned that several applicants did not live in the Borough, but according to Solicitor Ty Heller, residency cannot be a condition of hire.
To allow for the selected applicant to be on the street as soon as possible, the applicant chosen Thursday will be hired by the interviewers for a 60-day probationary period before a majority of council members vote on a permanent appointment at a later public meeting.
Council held executive sessions before and after the regular meeting.