Antrim drops concession stand from park plans

PAT FRIDGEN

After a pointed discussion July 13, the board of supervisors voted down construction of a concession stand at Antrim Township Community Park, where a baseball complex is part of the overall plan. The decision went against the recommendation of administrator Brad Graham. On a split vote two weeks earlier, the board had rejected the low bid of $139,353 for a 30x30 one-story facility. James Byers and Sam Miller thought the figure was too high while Fred Young III and Rick Baer supported the bid. Curtis Myers was absent. The consensus was to rebid.

"I don't make a lot of strong statements, but I'll make one now," said Graham. "This project needs to be completed and completed well, and with something that reflects honorably on Antrim Township."

He warned them that a matching DCNR grant expired December 2011. The township could spend up to $225,000 and the state would contribute the same amount. He added that he and Baer had come up with some cost-cutting measures that would still yield a " perfectly functional building."

The changes included installing less-fancy electrical fixtures, surface-mounting the water and electrical lines, using cinder block, eliminating the cupola, and putting on a shingle rather than steel roof.

Young was opposed immediately. "We'll be wasting everyone's money if we bid this again."

He asked Miller and Byers several times what their acceptable limit was.

"We wasted $1,000 last time on advertising," he continued. "If you won't vote yes on a bid over $100,000, I won't vote yes now to rebid."

Both responded they wanted to see the proposals. Miller suggested maybe the township should forget the grant and do the work itself.

Baer inserted, "I agree to a point. Grants are still taxpayer money. But we're using the money 'here'."

Citizen Betty Myers spoke from the audience. She supported Miller, stating with so many people unemployed, they would be willing to work competitively on the project.

Myers abruptly moved to drop the idea of a concession stand and not rebid it or have one at all. Young seconded. The motion passed 4-1 with Baer opposed.

Graham said after the meeting the baseball fields could be ready for play in the summer of 2011, depending on the effects of the drought. Without a concession stand, some expected tournaments might not take place but those reserving the fields would be able to bring in their own trailers.

"We can't maximize the use of that grant," he said. "I knew (the vote) was a possibility because one of the supervisors had expressed that opinion to me. So I was not surprised."

Other business

With the contentious building out, details changed for another project that needed to be rebid. Because none of the six vendors who picked up packets on paving, concrete, fencing and pavilion construction had submitted bids, the board split the projects, believing they were too broad for most businesses.The concrete originally planned to surround the concession stand was changed to a stone bed.

The board unanimously approved the purchase of equipment for a Tot Lot through COSTARS, Pennsylvania's municipal contract pricing outlet. The play pieces included eight swings, with two of them ADA-compliant, a dino climber, super scoop, double bobble rider and rhino dino. The price without installation was $13,690.

"We had $10,000 budgeted," said Baer, who favored the expenditure. "It's not a grant but we've never really held back on anything else."

Supervisors told Graham they would get back to him if they were interested in pursuing a proposal by Cobalt Community Research. The nonprofit organization creates methods to engage citizens in budget and planning decisions faced by local government. It said the feedback would help Antrim understand the public's priorities and build support for the decisions the board ultimately made.

Antrim went on record opposing Pennsylvania House Bill 2431 and Senate Bill 1357, which advocated counties becoming the basic level of government.

Byers defended township operations. "This is the best form of government, what we have. It's closer to the people. They can yell at us."

Executive session

The board met privately to discuss Norfolk Southern and personnel.

Solicitor John Lisko said the township may possibly file a claim against NS. It would also sign a mutual release agreement with a former employee.

"You can file a right-to-know claim on that, but it will be denied," he said. "No one can discuss it or release a copy."