Collaborator hired to oversee '99 steps' work in Shamokin
SHAMOKIN - A collaborator on other city projects was hired by council Wednesday to oversee the technical specifications of the restoration of the "99 steps."
Tom Grbenick will be paid up to $6,000. He was hired during a special meeting of city council.
Grbenick prepared the successful grant application for the "99 steps" project on behalf of the city at no cost, according to City Clerk Steve Bartos.
Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission awarded the city $25,000 earlier for the first phase of the three-phase project. The city is required to come up with $35,000, and it was previously stated that funds from the city's annual Community Development Block Grant allocations would be used.
Grbenick has assisted on the historic restoration project on the stone channels of Shamokin Creek and Carbon Run, assisting in the compilation of historical background on the construction of the creek channels. He also wrote a pending grant with the state that, if successful, would reimburse Shamokin dollar-for-dollar for expenses from the emergency demolition last year of a partially collapsed building on North Shamokin Street.
Previously employed with SEDA-COG, Bartos said Grbenick is a licensed architect.
The "99 steps" are believed to have been built between the mid-1930s and early-1940s as projects by the Works Progress Administration. The nickname came from a wooden staircase that preceded the stone version, which is actually 11 steps shy of the moniker.
The staircase has been closed for several years due to safety concerns, and a full restoration was previously estimated at $175,000.
During Wednesday's special meeting, Bartos said the budget for the first phase of the restoration project is: $3,000 for project management to be paid to the city, $6,000 for architectural fees and technical oversight, $2,500 for demolition, $47,500 for concrete and masonry work, and $1,000 for historic signage.
The project is expected to be put to bid within the next 30 days, and the successful contractor must have expertise in historic preservation work and follow closely the guidelines set by the Department of the Interior, Bartos said.