Resident, Kulpmont council president go a round over new building
KULPMONT - Tempers flared between borough council President Bruno Varano and Bob Chesney, a leading voice opponent of the proposed new borough complex, when word came out the borough may be looking for bids in the near future.
Before their argument, Stephen Motyka, who has been the spearhead the building project for council, said test bores would be drilled at the site starting Wednesday, and once the results are analyzed and the exact site placement is made, the construction could be put out on bid within the next two months.
Chesney and Varano went at it at Tuesday's council meeting during the public comment portion after Chesney once again expressed frustration about what he says is a lack of public information about the plan to construct a 4,000-square-foot building and a 5,000-foot borough garage along Fir Street.
"I've always said that we should have regrouped and discussed things more, but that plea has fallen on deaf ears," Chesney said. "Last April, I brought in a petition that was signed by more than 300 people that I got in two days about it, but it was rejected. We've asked to put it on the ballot, but that never happened."
Chesney said in more than 70 percent of the meetings that were held in the last year, nothing was discussed about the new borough building.
"We, the citizens, have had no input on this $1 million project except for one meeting two years ago. You discussed ordinances earlier tonight and it takes two meetings and a number of discussions on it to change an ordinance. On the new building, you've only had one meeting," Chesney said.
He said the confidence he and other citizens had in borough council has been shaken because their voices were not being heard.
"With the 4 1/2 mill-tax increase and you not hearing us out, we feel betrayed," Chesney said.
The discussion began to break down when Chesney made a suggestion on how to pay for the new building.
"The seven of you want the building," Chesney said, referring to council. "Then the taxpayers will pay for it five months out of the year, and you pay for it the other seven months for 40 years."
Varano cut him off, stating his three minutes to give public comment was up.
"We hear this month after month. It's the same thing over and over," Varano said.
"But nothing is ever done," Chesney answered back. "I want the point made that we have been ignored for the last year and a half on this matter."
Stephen Motyka, chairman of the building committee, said the borough has worked to keep costs down on the building's construction and that savings in utilities will more than pay for the building.
"God bless you for that," Chesney said. "Still, we could have had one more meeting on the matter to discuss it. Why is that so hard?"
"We had a meeting, one person showed up. We've been working on this project for the last five years and we hear this every month," Varano fired back.
"Unless I brought the matter up, the topic was only discussed seven times by borough council in the last five years," Chesney retorted. "I've read the minutes from every meeting. For $1 million, if one person showed up for the first meeting, maybe there should have been another meeting."
Resident Ed Wojcik asked, "Why wasn't the matter put on the ballot?"
Varano responded, "Your concern is duly noted."
In other business
- Councilmember Stephanie Niglio reported that a special traffic safety session concerning the proper use of the pedestrian channeling devices seen in the borough will be held June 19 at the borough's senior action center and will be open to the public. Details and times will be announced.
- Council voted to purchase more signs to warn dog owners at the Veterans' Memorial Complex to not allow dogs to run without a leash and to clean up after them.
- Approval was given to pay $12,000 to Shaffer Design Associates for design work and $4,900 to Advance Engineers for geotechnical engineering services related to the new borough complex.
- Council voted to send a letter to the state legislature in support of House Bills 1272 and 1340, which would allow local police departments to use radar guns in speed enforcement.
- Thank you letters will be sent to Kulpmont Sportsman Association, The Kulpmont American Legion Post and the Kulpmont Knights of Columbus for their donations to help defray the cost of new flags that will be hung on Chestnut Street.
- Borough council reminded residents that all chimineys, according to borough ordinance, must be 20 feet from any structure and that they must be registered with the borough code office with a no-fee application. Council will also look into an ordinance concerning gas grills on front porches and near structures.
- Approval was given to the street department to purchase new equipment, mainly 11 sign poles, 11 stop signs and 50 "no parking-temporary police order" signs, at a total cost of $756.96. There was also approval given to enter into a new contract with DMS for summer trash hauling and to purchase a new alternator for the fire police vehicle.
- The annual Kulpmont Community Yard Sale will be held Saturday, June 21, with a rain date of June 28.