NEWS

Council to tackle properties violating borough code

PAT FRIDGEN

Council member Craig Myers believes the Code of the Borough of Greencastle holds the answer to several issues facing the community. At the July 6 meeting of borough council, he referenced the massive tome as officials debated how to solve problems.

Harry Foley opened up for debate two of his concerns. "I'll stir up the hornet's nest," he said, "but I think it's way past time that we move full force in cleaning up blighted properties."

He indicated portions of the south side of West Franklin Street and the east side of South Jefferson Street were not being maintained in accordance with local ordinances. Mayor Robert Eberly agreed that something had to be done and pushed for a committee to come up with recommendations, perhaps after a legal consultation.

H. Duane Kinzer countered that council should take the lead, but apply the standards across the board and not only on select properties. Myers mentioned the code book.

"Our ordinances cover most situations," he said. "We have leverage to do things. Maybe a committee should research the answers already in the book, and not get a lawyer."

With the council in consensus that the issue was worth pursuing, Kinzer agreed that his Community Development Committee would take on the task on a limited basis.

Foley also suggested the borough put more signs downtown prohibiting bicycles, scooters, skateboards and rollerblades on sidewalks. He had seen some in use amongst pedestrians during First Friday. Myers pointed out the Code had chapters dealing with the exact subject matter. The Public Safety Committee will review the issue.

Other business

With Old Home Week fast approaching, president Charles Eckstine suggested PennDOT delay installing ADA-compliant sidewalk ramps at the Center Square corners until after the triennial celebration in August. Borough manager Kenneth Womack had been in contact with the department on the timing of its project and agreed to mention it again.

"People need to know the state will do as they please," said Eberly, but supported postponing the work.

The borough is investigating what to do with two cisterns. Myers said one on Madison Street was rarely used and the one in the square leaked. With Madison undergoing repairs in a year, the fate of the underground water cells had to be decided.  He did not think the cisterns were large enough to be useful in case of fires, especially since the borough had hydrants, and the locations were not suitable for training purposes for firefighters. He had contacted the Rescue Hose Company for its recommendations.

Womack was authorized to determine the benefit of the borough making a cash contribution of $750,000 towards the refinancing of sewer bonds, using sewer fund reserves. Because certificates of deposit were not yielding much interest, he had asked Public Financial Management to provide options for paying off the sewer debt in an efficient manner. Three responses were presented. If the borough reissued its current bonds, it would save $81,000 in 2010. If it contributed $500,000, the savings through the bond maturity in 2025 would be $750,000. If it contributed $1 million, the overall savings would be $1.4 million. The council wanted to see the numbers if a contribution midway between the two choices was made.