Clarks Summit discusses paving project, clock tower repairs

June 18th, 2015 10:28 am

First Posted: 3/3/2015

CLARKS SUMMIT — Council will vote at the regular council meeting in March on accepting a paving bid that is currently over budget, with a change order that is expected to put the project back on track with the borough’s budget.

Last month, council heard bids to pave borough streets, with the lowest bid from Wayco Inc at $609,662.83. “We had not anticipated the cost to be as high as it was, but we actually do have $602,000 and change available for paving,” said Borough Manager Virginia Kehoe at council’s work session Feb. 24.

According to Kehoe, a combination of money from the general fund and sewer fund will also be used towards the paving project because of anticipated storm water repairs in conjunction with paving borough streets.

“We had hoped to keep it (the paving project) at $550,000, but we can scrape together…so the difference is only $7,000,” Kehoe said, as opposed to almost $60,000 over budget council anticipated when they first heard the bids.

Councilmember Vincent Cruciani suggested council accept the bid from Wayco Inc., and then submit a change order in the contract to pave one less street in order to balance the $7,000 over budget.

Kehoe said Division Street was added to the project for paving because it also needed storm water work, but that, “It’s not one of the worst roads. We can do the storm water work, and we can leave it unpaved for one year,” Kehoe said.

If only the storm water work is completed this year on Division Street between Electric Street and Woodlawn Avenue, the borough would recover the $7,000 balance and then some. Kehoe said she did not have the exact breakdown, but that the savings would definitely be over $7,000.

Completing the storm water work and patching without paving on Division Street would be similar to work done previously on Gladiola Drive and Knapp Road in recent years, Kehoe said.

In other business, council addressed concerns regarding paying for repairs to the clock tower located downtown on State Street.

Kehoe said she received an estimate to fix various issues on the borough’s clock tower, which total approximately $6,500. The repairs are expensive because the clock was custom made, and therefore, “You can’t just get a replacement part,” she said.

“We don’t own it (the clock tower) and we don’t own the land it’s on, so why should we do anything with it? We don’t legally have a right to be on that land,” said Cruciani.

According to Kehoe, the Rotary Club of the Abingtons put up clock tower and donated it to the borough in 1986 for the borough’s 75th anniversary, but it was erected on private property and the landowner never granted the borough an easement on the property.

“I am very concerned about the fact that we have public assets on private property,” said Kehoe, explaining in 1986 the deal was made on a “handshake” with the property owner agreeing to have the clock on the property if the borough maintained it and the sidewalks surrounding it, and that the property owner has refused to give an easement since.

“It’s an eyesore on land we don’t own. I think spending $6,500 on something we don’t own is not wise,” Cruciani. “It’s ugly.” He suggested the clock tower could be moved to borough property.

“That’s a matter of opinion,” said Vice President Dominic Scott. “I don’t think it’s ugly.”

Council member Pat Williams said the clock tower is “the highlight of downtown. Get it fixed.”

“It’s a $6,500 problem. If someone else was fixing it, I wouldn’t say anything,” said Cruciani.

Council President Gerrie Carey and Mayor Patty Lawler suggested the Rotary pay for the repairs and maintenance. “The clock is only 29 years old. Maybe the Rotary should take a look at it,” said Lawler.

“All I want is the easement,” Kehoe said, and suggested council abandon any maintenance on the property until the landowner grants an easement for the borough. If that is the case, Cruciani said the borough should give the property owner a formal notice.

Borough Solicitor Attorney Dan Mulhern said the matter is “complicated.”

“We’re going to get a legal opinion before we do anything,” Kehoe said.