Sewer project hitting delays

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The proposed West Mahoning Street Sewer project continues to be held up due to right-of-way difficulties.

Brian Sekula, of the EADS Group Inc. borough engineers, reported at Monday’s borough council meeting that the proposed sewer project has moved along like “molasses,” saying that the group had received a highway occupancy permit from PennDOT last year and was submitted to the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad a number of months ago with no reply.

“There’s another entity that reviews those now for the railroad,” he said. “We did receive several comments from them a couple of months ago when I asked for several plan changes.”

Sekula said EADS had contacted the railroad periodically and did not receive any response.

“We’ve heard from them several days ago, in which they stated they had some questions regarding the project, but they wouldn’t tell us what those are,” he said.

One of the problems is that part of the project is on the south side sidewalk.

“The gas and the water lines are in the sidewalk, and we’d have to move off the right of way to do our sewer project,” Sekula said. “We’re beginning on the railroad’s property, and then we come down and cross over to the plaza’s property, then Uni-Mart and back onto the plaza’s property.”

He said EADS heard from National Retail Properties, which owns the Uni-Mart property, which requested more information about the fair market value for an easement.

“Eddie Annan, owner of Uni-Mart, said that he had no problem with granting the borough an easement,” Sekula said, and that EADS has asked the owners of the plaza to come to a meeting with the borough, but has not received a response as of yet.

A bid date is uncertain at this time, he said.

Borough Manager Ben White asked if the plaza could receive indemnification regarding any future flooding from the borough after the project would be completed. Sekula replied that the plaza owners were told from the beginning that would not be possible.

“You have a facility that is below the flood level of the dike, and flooding will occur again at some point,” Sekula said. “Mother Nature will let us know at some point when that will occur again, and there’s nothing that anyone can do about it.”

He said if there would be a meeting with the plaza owners, he could explain that a different pipe will be installed, and the water is still in that area, “whether it’s here or there, that’s not changing that.”

Also Monday:

• Sekula told council that the borough could replace a sewer line that runs from Pine Alley (next to McDonald’s) to Jefferson Street before April 1 if the project goes to bid quickly, with bids due the week of Jan. 31 and a special meeting to award the bids.

“We would specify to the contractor that they must have their work completed prior to April 1 when the Torrence Street widening project will begin,” he said.

Council approved a motion to advertise for bids for the Pine Alley sewer project, and another motion to give White the authority to move ahead with the Pine Alley sewer project once the bids are received with a recommendation from EADS.

White said a Jan. 20 meeting is scheduled with PennDOT and the contractor regarding the Torrence Street project.

• Council adopted the Jefferson County Storm Water Management ordinance as mandated by DEP.

Also, council:

• Accepted the Punxsutawney Fire Department 2010 report from Chief Paul Hense, with a total of 183 calls for the year.

Council member Roger Steele congratulated the members of the volunteer organization.

• Approved the removal of Freddrick Allender and Kyle Bryan from the Central Fire Department active list, and Josie Kalus from the active list to social member.

• Hense reported on a search for a new engine for the Elk Run Volunteer Fire Company.

He said officers agreed to contact different vendors and meet with them throughout the month to get a bid proposal put together to bring back to council for hopefully next month.