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Laceyville Council Drops Plans for Park-Playground

 

By David Keeler

It seemed like a great opportunity earlier this year when the Laceyville Borough Council was informed that a family wanted to donate a vacated home to the community. At about the same time, council learned that playground equipment at the Laceyville Elementary School might be available when the school closed and students moved to the consolidated school in Wyalusing. Accepting the property and placing the playground equipment there seemed like a win-win scenario.

But Tuesday night council agreed that the plan was dead in the water and that it should not proceed with the proposed park. The Jackson family, which had offered the former Ella Cobb property just off Main Street near Huffman’s Garage free of charge, informed council recently that it had changed its mind and wanted $25,000 for the property. Additionally, Council President Donald VanDeMark told council that since the school district has sold the Laceyville school to a gas company, it no longer has control over the playground equipment. “If the gas company’s willing to give it to us, we can get it,” VanDeMark said.

“Do we really need this property?” VanDeMark asked council.

“No,” Tim Shotwell said, summing up the feelings of the others.

“I don’t think we do either,” VanDeMark said.

“You put $25,000 in it and you’re still going to have to put a couple more thousand in it before you’re done,” Shotwell added.

Mayor Ken Patton said that FEMA may condemn some recently flooded homes and one of those lots might make an even better park location. That was the end of the discussion.

The meeting opened with a complaint from Bonnie Ely who attended the meeting with her husband, Bill, and daughter, Jessica.

Mrs. Ely said after recent flooding broke a water line that runs under the creek near her home, she was promised a Buffalo tank to supply her home with water. “I’m wondering what happened?” she asked. “We never got it. We were six days without any water.”

Patton said the reason was that the National Guard had promised to bring the tank but never did. “We called and nobody knew anything about it,” Patton said. “People worked around the clock to get your water flowing again.”

Water Superintendent Tim Shotwell said the damaged water line resulted in the borough losing about 100 gallons per minute, so he shut down service and then later issued a boil advisory after service was restored. A temporary line was installed that crosses the creek on the Franklin Street Bridge, which is closed to traffic.

Ely said that although water service has been restored, it now smells like sewage.

Shotwell said he doubted that it was sewage that Ely smelled but he couldn’t determine what it might be without coming to the Elys’ house.

Bonnie Ely said she was concerned because her daughter is pregnant.

Shotwell said he would stop by the Ely house Saturday or possibly sooner to see if he could find the problem. He suggested that it might be from a water heater, but Mrs. Ely said their water heater is brand new.

Shotwell said water quality checks have shown no problems with borough water. He suggested it could also be sulfur, but the Elys disagreed.

Another visitor to the meeting, Mary Lee Travis, asked council when damage from the flooding would be cleaned up. Patton said that some items can’t be removed until they are inspected by FEMA. He said it cost the borough $800 each to have dumpsters filled with flood debris hauled away and emptied.

The discussion with the Elys and Mrs. Travis, which lasted about 45 minutes, ended with Bill Ely extending thanks to those who helped during the flooding.  “Thanks to everyone who helped out,” he said. “I really appreciated that.”

Other business included:

—Learning the little league facility at Donovan Park was destroyed by the flooding. The dugouts are gone and some $30,000 in fencing is a twisted wreck.

—Extending thanks to Bill Ruark and the Clark Brothers for their help during the flooding.

—Hearing from Tim Shotwell that he plans to step down as water superintendent next year and due to recent health problems that have kept him from doing his job, he needs a helper to get caught up. Council agreed to hire someone to assist him. Shotwell said selling the water company to a privately owned company, which has been previously considered, would likely result in a substantial increase in water rates.

—Agreeing with a suggestion from Mayor Patton that the borough retire its older police cruiser, which Patton said is in need of some expensive repairs.

—Discussing how cleaning up flood damage in the community would make an ideal senior project for a WVHS senior.

—Agreeing to advertise for snow plowing bids.

—Discussing a problem where some borough residents were prevented from using dumpsters for flood debris by another borough resident. Patton said it was apparently a communication breakdown that brought on the situation.

—Agreeing to update the borough’s Earned Income Tax ordinance.

—Approving the dispersal of funds to the fire company to replace funds damaged in the flooding. No amount was stipulated.

—Setting the borough’s Trick or Treat for Sunday, Oct. 30 from 2 to 4 p.m.

— Agreeing to hold a budget workshop at Mary Tyler’

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