Mount Carmel considers demoltion of borough garage
MOUNT CARMEL - Holes in the roof of this large garage have allowed small piles of snow to accumulate inside and ice up the floors.
At a right angle, sunlight can be seen through cracks in the wall.
The heating system doesn't work; neither does the electricity, and plumbing hangs from the wall, leading to nowhere.
This dilapidated building, however, is different than some others in the borough. This one is owned by the borough.
It's the old borough garage, and engineer Mike Brinkash, of Brinkash & Associates, Ashland, recently told borough officials it would be more expensive to fix the problems than to raze it and start over.
To put it lightly, "It's in bad shape," council President Tony Matulewicz said.
And it's not what the people of Mount Carmel deserve, said council Vice President Leroy "Chico" Moser.
That's why council members, at their next public meeting, Feb. 20, will likely award a contract to demolish the building.
Bids for the project include
$18,600 from Rutlege Excavating, Tyler Hill; $23,700 from Ferdinand Diminick Contracting, Danville; $29,777 from Dudash Pipeline Co. Inc., Pottsville; $39,000 from SDL Construction LLC, Orwigsburg; and $58,440 from Northeast Industrial Services, Shamokin.
Next question: Should Mount Carmel have a new municipal complex? The pursuit of such a project has council members in Kulpmont under fire, but Mount Carmel isn't that far along yet.
The street department no longer works out of the garage at Seventh and Oak streets. Instead, the street crew has been stationed at the former ambulance bay at American Hose and Chemical Fire Company on South Sixth Street for at least a year.
"We don't feel it's safe enough to work out there every day," said borough manager Edward Cuff III.
In a brief tour of the borough garage with Cuff Wednesday, a News-Item reporter observed broken windows, boarded-up garage door openings, damp floors, frayed wiring and abandoned tools and supplies, as well as the snow and ice.
Cuff said the borough still stores some of its equipment and possessions in the garage, but most of it is now at the fire station.
Something 'for 50 years'
No decision has been made by the seven council members on what to do with the property if they vote to tear down the building.
Matulewicz wants a new building to host not only the borough garage, but also the offices and the police station - a true municipal headquarters.
"I'd like to see us get something we can have for the next 50 years. I'm wide open to ideas, as long as we have enough money to do it," he said.
"It won't be "extravagant," he added.
The borough office, garage, code enforcement office, street department, police station and council chambers are split between two buildings.
The borough pays $25,200 annually in rent and utilities to Scott McCormick for use of the Fourth and Vine streets location, which home to borough offices and the police station. That building is the site of the former Mount Carmel Elementary School. Prior to its renovation into an elementary school, it was the school district's junior high school and later home to high school freshmen and sophomores.
Moser wants to make sure none of the garage can be salvaged before tearing it down.
"If it's not, then we have to do it," he said.
It will good for citizens to have everything in one place and on one floor, as well as having the borough offices and meeting rooms handicap accessible, Moser said about the prospects for a new place.
'Let's not rush'
New Mayor Philip "Bing" Cimino wants council members to carefully consider options before moving forward, noting he thinks the west end of the borough garage could be salvaged.
If part of the building can be fixed for borough purposes, perhaps building additional space on the property would be cheaper, he said.
"We need a borough hall. Mount Carmel should have something, but let's make sure there's a plan in place first and take it one step at a time," he said. "Let's not rush it."
Any new building should not be a "Taj Mahal," he added.
$275,000 in fund
The money to tear down the garage and build a new structure in its place will likely be taken from the Henry J. Honcz and Louise C. Honcz fund. The couple bequeathed money to the borough as long as they named the pool or another borough-owned building after them, Matulewicz said.
The account still has approximately $275,000.