MOUNT CARMEL - Two properties, including the borough garage, are one step closer to being demolished.

Bids for demolition were awarded by unanimous borough council consent Thursday to Rutledge Excavating, Tyler Hill, for $21,440 for the garage located on Oak and Seventh streets, and $9,700 for a fire-damaged property at 244 E. Second St.

Rutledge was also awarded the bid for asbestos testing, abatement and removal at the borough garage for $1,780.

The garage is beyond repair, according to Mike Brinkash, of Brinkash & Associations, Ashland, after two unofficial inspections of the building. Brinkash only looked around the building as a favor to the borough, and said they would waste their money getting a full engineer's report.

The Second Street property, destroyed in a Nov. 8, 2012, fire, has held up the demolition of properties at 246 and 248 E. Second St. due to an ownership dispute. The issue spilled over into a legal battle, and the borough assumed ownership of the property in December, settling the matter.

Contractor worried

Ferdinand Diminick, a contractor from Danville, asked council members Thursday if they were confident Rutledge wasn't underbidding the garage project.

Diminick said he had originally bid $23,700, but changed it to $50,000 after closer inspection.

He said he's confident no one could perform the job at such a low bid, and he wondered what would happen if Rutledge couldn't finish the job.

"This isn't an auction," solicitor William Cole said. "We cannot have a situation where we're rebidding without rebidding."

The borough will review the insurance and contract to determine whether it is adequate, he said.

Borough resident Ed Fegley, a former borough code enforcement officer, questioned council member's plan to raze the structure, asking if they were putting the "cart before the horse" in tearing the garage down.

"An engineer said tear the building down. I don't know why we would second guess him," President Tony Matulewicz said.

The decision wasn't rushed, Councilman Clem Plisiewicz, noting council has been discussing it for at least four years.

Mayor Philip "Bing" Cimino, who has been an advocate of taking a second look at the building, said he still has mixed emotions about tearing it down.

Daughter concerned

Ranshaw resident Susan Grow, on behalf of her mother Lillian Mae Mirarchi, of 250 E. Second St., told the borough she was concerned that her mother's house would not be affected by the demolition of 244-248 E. Second St.

Mirarchi's house was damaged in the same fire.

"I'm frustrated that the process took so long," Grow said. "My mom played by the rules."

Matulewicz explained they had to find Mark Jackson, owner of 244 E. Second St., before they could take any action. It wasn't settled until recently.

While the borough is contracted with Rutledge to tear down 244 E. Second St., that structure does not touch Mirarchi's house.

Diminick is contracted privately to tear down 246-248 E. Second St. Those do touch her house, meaning Grow's concern would be with him.

Therefore, it's a "civil matter and not borough responsibility," Matulewicz said.

Diminick and Grow exchanged information at the meeting.

In other business, council approved:

- The resignation of John Bucanelli from the Mount Carmel Municipal Authority, and the advertisement to accept resumes for the open position.

- The appointment of borough manager Edward T. Cuff III as treasurer effective March 1. He will be assuming the duties from Megan Janolek, who will be working primarily as Lower Anthracite Transportation System (LATS) executive director. The treasurer position comes with an annual $1,500 stipend.