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Wyalusing Council Sets Sights on Summer Projects

George Anderson, President of the Wyalusing Borough Council, told his cohorts Monday evening that he's received approval for a loan package that would bring major drainage improvements to the borough in an area of the community that's been plagued with flooding for years.

And council gave its stamp of approval to a streetscape project planned for Bridge Street by the Wyalusing Community Corps (WCC) that will bring a number of enhancements to the borough.

Council Okays $450,000 Loan

Anderson asked council to approve entering into a $450,000 loan agreement with Peoples State Bank (PSB) that would be used to finance the drainage project and also pay off an existing loan for street renovations. The PSB loan, Anderson said, would be at five percent interest, however, he suggested the borough refinance this debt with a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture at 2.5 percent. He said it would take about eight months to obtain the USDA loan. Anderson said the loan from PSB would be what's known as a construction loan, where interest is accumulated only on money spent or drawn from the loan account during the first year.

A major portion of the loan, $375,000, will go to bring drainage improvements to an area between Second and Third Streets, as well as along Marsh Street and lower Gaylord Street. "We were lucky the rain turned to snow the other day or we would have had a mess downtown," Anderson said pointing to the urgency of solving the drainage problem.

The balance of the loan will be used to pay off approximately $70,000 the borough currently owes for street renovations. The borough is currently making payments of $3,200 per month on the street loan; the new payment will be $3,500 per month.

Anderson said he expects the project to go out for bids in the spring with work beginning this summer.

Council gave its unanimous approval to proceed with the loan package as described by Anderson.

WCC Plans Improvements Along Bridge Street

Jeff Homer, President of the Wyalusing Community Corps, told council that WCC has received a $40,000 Community Development Block Grant and plans to use it for an early phase of what he described as WCC's Heritage Trail Project.

Homer said the long-range goal of this project is to build a walking trail that would connect Wyalusing Borough with the Wyalusing Valley Museum and the nearby school complex. In the short range, Homer asked for council's permission to extend and improve the sidewalk that runs from the Chamber of Commerce Building on Main Street to the Route 6 Bridge spanning the Wyalusing Creek. He said the work would also include the addition of street lamps that matched the antique lamps on Main Street and in other parts of the borough. "Our goal is to make an attractive entrance to Wyalusing," Homer said. He said the work would also include basic landscaping including cutting down brush and adding attractive flowers and shrubs. "We're looking at planting low maintenance items that would need little or no upkeep," Homer said.

With the money in place, the project is what Homer described as "shovel ready" with work expected to begin this summer and completion in the fall, but before the project can proceed, Homer said he needs council's blessing.

WCC needs council's help in a number of ways, according to Homer. He said council owns two small parcels of land in the project area and WCC would need the borough's permission to use this land. Other property owners include Daniel Cotter, who owns the former McCarty warehouse, Mike Dunfee and Dean Paddock. Homer said Cotter has agreed to allow a portion of his property to be used for the proposed project. Dunfee is proposing to donate land he owns within the project area to the borough. Paddock has also expressed interest in donating a small portion of his land to the borough, however, Homer stressed this has not been confirmed.

Homer said WCC would also work with the borough in the selection of street lamps. "Within reason, we're happy to work with you regarding what you would like for lighting," Homer said. "We would just like to get this completed as soon as possible because our grant monies come with a time line."

Anderson suggested that WCC consider adding what he called a "grassy strip" between the sidewalk and the curb where he said electrical conduit could be buried, rather than under new sidewalks.

Kelly Bradley said the new lampposts should have electrical outlets that would facilitate Christmas lights. "I think what they're looking to do is a real benefit to the community," Bradley said. "We're lucky that they went out and secured these grants. It's important that we all work together on these things."

But Bradley advised that before the borough committed to give its blessing to the project, the agreements from Paddock and Dunfee needed to be in place. Homer said, however, that WCC needed the borough's backing from the onset. "We need your blessing on the overall project before we proceed," Homer said. "It's pointless for me to secure these other agreements without you guys backing us on the project." Homer said he hoped to have agreements in place with landowners in a matter of weeks, however, he said it could take at least three months before final approval was granted by the county planning office and other agencies. In the meantime, Homer said he hopes to secure permission from Dunfee and Paddock to proceed with the project while they still own the land that will be involved.

Bradley said the borough plans to bring in an engineer to develop a plan for updating street lamps and trees on Main Street, and Homer suggested there is a possibility that an engineer working with WCC could assist the borough as well.

Scott Snyder pointed out that sidewalk width requirements could be a problem near the Route 6 bridge, where he said the area between Bridge Street and the creek bank isn't wide enough to accommodate a sidewalk. He said some fill would likely be needed.

The discussion ended with Snyder making a motion for the borough to support the project. Bradley seconded Snyder's motion and council approved unanimously. "Consider yourself blessed," Fred Reinhart told Homer.

The meeting opened with Brian Keeler telling council that he had seen a newspaper article when Bobbi Lord was mayor regarding council agreeing to begin a process where approval must be granted before historic homes in the borough could be razed. Keeler pointed out examples of where historic structures had been razed and no approval was required. No one on council was aware of such a requirement regarding historic structures. All of the borough's ordinances are available online at www.wyalusingborough.com.

Other Business

—hearing from Brian Keeler regarding how limiting parking to one side of Front Street makes it difficult for his tenants to find a convenient place to park. Council limited parking to one side of the street to facilitate snow plowing.

—Accepting a bid from Bruce Miller for the mowing of borough properties at $295 per mowing. There was one other bid—$360—from Walter Sutton.

—Agreeing to grant a 90-day extension to Carolyn Harrsch regarding her not being allowed to park in front of her Route 6 home, where council has prohibited parking. Harrsch called council prior to the start of the meeting, and in a conversation that was heard by all councilmembers over a speaker phone, explained that she is handicapped and unable to walk to other areas where she could park her car. She said she needs time to get a grant to help her build a driveway that would allow her to park on her property, rather than along Route 6.

—Discussing the purchase of curbing that would help prevent cars from damaging the fence at the cemetery near the high school. Council tabled its decision, however, because the plastic curbing was only six-inches high and was considered by some councilmembers as not high enough.

—Hearing a compliment from Kelly Bradley regarding the snow removal following Sunday's heavy snow. Bradley also told council that crosswalk signs have been placed in the borough and are currently being put in place each morning and removed in the evening by her husband, John. Bradley also suggested that the crosswalks be painted with brighter paint and widened somewhat.

—Learning that the borough's recently purchased new Skidsteer should be delivered in about three weeks.

—Hearing a report from Sgt. Lloyd Overfield that he had worked 61 hours last month.

—Agreeing to hire Mark McCullough to survey the borough's property in Brewer Hollow. Council wants the survey to determine the exact boundaries of its property.

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