Category: Kittanning Borough

Volunteers Needed for Riverfront Park Cleaning Effort

Residents walk through Kittanning Riverfront Park along the Allegheny River after rain poured throughout the region earlier Tuesday afternoon.

by Jonathan Weaver

Instead of inside Council Chambers tomorrow, local residents and park-goers will see some of Kittanning Borough Council members working outside in Riverfront Park.

And they are inviting those outdoor enthusiasts to join them.

From 4-9PM Thursday, Borough Council President Randy Cloak invited volunteers to help clean portions of Riverfront Park, including pulling weeks from different flowerbeds and removing logs and debris that washed into the amphitheater following high water rates during the past month.

“We have a list of many things that need done, so if we can have some volunteers for a few hours or a portion of that time…I think that would go very far toward improving the aesthetics of the park,” Cloak said.

A list of improvements that need performed was compiled by Cloak and First Ward Councilwoman Betsy Wilt last week.

“Things that you would do in your front yard, we need to clean up in Kittanning’s front yard,” Cloak said. “We need everyone’s help.”

Volunteers are asked to bring their own gloves and gardening tools, and meet at the John P. Murtha Amphitheater. He hoped for 25-30 local residents.

The third Movie in the Park “The Lorax” – the animated comedy based on the children’s book written by Dr. Seuss – will be presented by the Armstrong County Tourist Bureau in the park at 9PM Friday.

Similar projects, as well as curb painting, alley sweeping and general maintenance, will be completed as well after Council’s unanimous decision to hire three part-time employees.

Employees – who will be interviewed today – will be paid minimum-wage and work about 30 hours per week for seven weeks, until approximately August 29.

“They will work diligently throughout the remainder of July and August,” Cloak said.
“Quite simply, Kittanning Borough needs cleaned up. We have a number of employees, and they all work diligently in performing their duties, but this is extra stuff that needs to be done.”

Answering First Ward Councilman David Croyle, the Borough is able to afford the three part-time employees due to an employee’s retirement earlier this year that was budgeted for in 2014.

In other news, 2013 Community Development Block Grant funding is expected to be available shortly, though the approved amount is not known. Kittanning Borough received less than $81,000 the year before, and it wasn’t received until late-summer.

Applications for a 2014 project will be due in November. County Planning and Development Division Director Bellas recommended council members decide on a project by September.

Kittanning Borough Paving, Loan Conditions Approved

The alley beside the Walnut Street Sheetz gas station is a popular avenue for residents to drive for necessities, said Borough Council President Randy Cloak, and must be repaved to safely transport residents to-and-from home.

by Jonathan Weaver

Some Kittanning Borough streets and alleys have crumbled under harsh weather conditions this past winter, but that will all be in the past after paving begins as soon as later this month.

Community Planning and Development Division Director Jennifer Bellas gave the good news to Kittanning Borough council members last night.

“The Borough did receive the (Pennsylvania Infrastructure Bank) loan in the amount of $700,000 for paving and ADA ramp replacements,” Bellas said.

The loan – which will be paid back during the next 10 years – was approved for paving and ramp replacement on Jacob Street, North Grant Street, North Water Street and Union Avenue.

However, there were some conditions, Bellas explained – including compliance with the Local Government Unit Debt Act and opening a new bank account for loan payments to be made to that account so that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation can have copies of all bank statements and any other bank activity associated.

The conditions were approved 6-1, with First Ward Councilman David Croyle opposed.

After the meeting, he explained he was in-favor of paving, but questioned how that money will be repaid on an already-tight budget.

“Our loan payments (are) going to be $76,407.45 per year. Because we are obligating the Borough over the next 10 years for this payment, and since prior to this time (council members) used that $76,000 Liquid Fuel payment every year for the General Fund, how are we going to make this payment?,” Croyle asked.

Council President Randy Cloak said the resolution authorizing him to sign all pertaining documents had to be signed during the meeting for work to begin.

“If we (didn’t) pass this resolution tonight, we won’t have the ability to move forward with those paving projects – we definitely need to move forward with that in July,” Cloak said.
Contracts were issued last week, according to Borough Engineer Mike Malak of Senate Engineering. He said contractors are anxious to get started and hopes to provide another update at the August council meeting if work has not already began.

Bellas warned council members that a payment may be due to contractors before grant funding is received. Cloak was confident the Borough would be financially-prepared.

Paving will also be completed in the alley near Kittanning Junior High School – from Vine to Arch Streets, – parallel to North Grant Avenue, and behind Balcony Towers parallel to South McKean Street – made possible via a $15,000 County Liquid Fuels grant award – to Cloak’s delight.

“For many years, paving and infrastructure projects were ignored simply as a budget concern – but with some savings we’ve incurred recently simply by switching insurance policies – we’re saving roughly $100,000 annually – that’ll free up some money for us to invest in the infrastructure,” Cloak said. “We’ve been ignoring that – it’s obvious when you look around – but it’s time to turn the tide and get Kittanning back to the way it’s supposed to be.”

Construction also keeps progressing along Market Street as part of the first phase of the Downtown Kittanning Revitalization Project.

The second pay estimate given by M&B Services of Clarion for nearly $65,500 in work during the past month was also approved and Bellas said a utility crossing originally planned has been erased and will provide some cost savings.

“They’ve since done research that they don’t need that crossing,” Bellas said. “They will make their connections at other points in the alley, so there will be a cost savings there.”

Project Manager Walt Smail further elaborated.

“What that means is we don’t have to trench the street – which is great for the project,” Smail said. “Saves us conduit cost, labor, backhoes, backfill, paving…saves a lot of that work.”

Final cost-saving projections are not yet known.

Last month, the County Planning and Development office submitted four grant applications for funding toward Phase II of the revitalization project: $3 million each with the Commonwealth Financing Authority and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the $500,000 Keystone Communities public improvement grant previously approved by council members and an Automated Red Light Enforcement grant.

Bellas cautioned council members that a revision by $2 million to the Commonwealth Financing Authority application may be necessary, but the subsequent resolution council members passed last month was also revised unanimously.

In other news, Borough Police Chief Bruce Mathews thanked the Kittanning Elks and Kittanning Eagles for donating a total of $1,750 to go toward a new computer system.

Part-time on-call Officers Craig Luffey and Christopher Thiel were sworn in before the meeting by Mayor Kirk Atwood.