Borough must know how much CDBG funds to expect before exploring projects

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Punxsutawney Borough’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for this year has yet to be determined along with what construction projects could be accomplished with the borough’s entitlement funds.

During Tuesday’s Legal & Finance Committee meeting, Borough Manager Ben White said the borough has yet to receive its CDBG allocation for this year, but has been advised by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which runs the program, that it should be known soon.

The borough can’t hold its second required public hearing until it knows how much money it will receive, White said.

That’s the case with every entitlement community such as Punxsutawney in the area, he said.

The CDBG program provides annual grants on a formula basis to 1,209 general units of local government and states.

The CDBG entitlement program allocates annual grants to larger cities and urban counties to develop viable communities by providing decent housing, a suitable living environment, and opportunities to expand economic opportunities, principally for low-and moderate-income persons.

White said there are several projects that council should consider once the money is available: The North Findley Street sewer replacement; sanitary and storm sewer separation projects throughout the borough; or to pay a local match for the H2O grant money to be received by the borough from the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).

Meanwhile, White said during the Public Safety Committee meeting that the Punxsutawney Area Community Center roof replacement is also being funded with CDBG money.

The project should be put out to bid by the end of June, he said, with the bids to be awarded at the August council meeting and construction to begin shortly thereafter.

Also at Tuesday’s committee meetings:

• Public Works Chairman Roger Steele said the refurbishing of the basketball court at Harmon Field is complete.

Steele said the court was completely resurfaced and has been painted, striped and heavily used by league teams.

• White said borough Engineer Brian Sekula, of The EADS Group, estimated the cost for the proposed sewer replacement project at the intersection of North Findley Street and Pine Street at $170,000.

Both Sekula and Joe Defelice, Public Works foreman, had the sewer line inspected with a camera, which revealed some major issues in the line, White said. The sewer project would require 350 feet of sewer pipe.

• Public Safety Chairman Mike Porada said there has been another request to move a street light located behind District Judge Douglas Chambers’ office on Pleasant Alley.

Porada said the light is currently located adjacent to the former Pifer Funeral Home parking area, and should probably remain there now that Brenda Schumaker has purchased the funeral home, which requires the installation of a second street light.

Committee member Larry Chenoga said council should move the light instead of going to the expense of installing a second light on the alley.

If council moves that light to the next pole and trims the trees, that would illuminate both properties, since it would be moved only 12 feet, Chenoga said.

Steele agreed that the light should be moved.

Porada said the committee should investigate the situation before Monday’s council meeting.

• Porada said Dr. George Cherian, the owner of the Bodyworx student housing building on West Mahoning Street, requested that a loading and unloading zone be approved to allow his tenants to load and unload their vehicles at the front of the building without driving onto the sidewalk.

Steele said perhaps Cherian could refurbish his sidewalk and push the curb back toward the building to gain the parking space he seeks.

Porada said that the committee will investigate the situation.

• The Public Safety Committee received a letter from PRIDE (Punxsutawney Revitalization: Investing, Developing, Enhancing) to allow the Farmers’ Market to be held on the sidewalk between South Findley Street and South Gilpin Street Thursdays throughout the summer months.

White said PRIDE wants to move the market to the downtown sidewalk for better visibility.

Currently, there are eight vendors signed up to participate in the Farmers’ Market, White said.