Clearfield Borough close to agreement on riverfront project|
Friday, June 22, 2012
By Jeff Corcino Staff Writer
Clearfield Borough is close to an agreement for the development of the riverfront project.
At last night's borough council meeting, borough Solicitor F. Cortez Bell III reported the borough is close to coming to an agreement with the Clearfield County Economic Development Corp. for it to become the developer of the project.
The borough has received a $5 million Redevelopment Capital Assistance grant from the state to develop commercial and residential properties and a riverwalk between the Nichols Street and Market Street bridges in downtown Clearfield.
Council voted last April to approve an agreemen with the CCEDC for it to be the developer for the project, pending legal approval by Bell for there were some contractual issues that needed to be worked out.
Rob Swales, executive director of the CCEDC, attended last night's meeting asking what the status is on the contact negotiations for the state has set a hard deadline of June 29. Swales said the project would bring $10 million in redevelopment and, except for the sidewalks, all of it would be placed on the tax rolls.
Bell said there are two issues left remaining on the contract that have to be worked out with the CCEDC's attorneys, one is a simple matter, an address has to be changed on the contract, the other deals with financial matters. However, he believes that, too, can be worked out quickly and approved prior to the deadline.
Since council gave its approval last April, it would not have to vote on it again once the two sides agree to the language in the contract.
When asked what the borough's status was with Bob Yoder of Impact PA of Turbotville, the original developer for the project, Bell said the borough has severed itself from Yoder and he no longer has anything to do with the project.
Last year the borough severed its relationship with Yoder citing a lack of progress on the project. A few months ago, Bell said he received a letter from Yoder asking what their status is and Bell said he responded by again informing him of the steps the borough has taken to separate him from the project.
When asked by council if the borough has any financial obligations to Yoder, Bell said no. He said the borough made initial payments to Yoder and its contract with him stated the borough was to make additional payments as work progressed, but since no work progressed no further payments were made.
In 2009, the borough had entered into an agreement with Yoder and Impact PA for it to develop a $16 million project that included new commercial and residential buildings, a geothermal heating and cooling system for the buildings that would have extended through the downtown and a riverwalk that looped on both sides of the river between the Nichols and Market streets bridges.
However, the project stalled after Yoder failed to secure private financing for the project and late last year the borough ended its relationship with Yoder.
If the new agreement is approved, the CCEDC would be the new developer for the project.
The original plan called for the demolition of the former Uni-Mart building on Market Street and several residential buildings on Water Street, and replacing them with a commercial building, as well as the construction of a new commercial/residential apartment building on the Tool Shed site, across the river on Market Street.
In other business:
• Patty Baker of Eighth Street, Clearfield defended her rooster and her hens before council.
There have been discussions at recent borough planning and borough council meetings on complaints by neighbors about excessive noise from roosters in East End that are waking people up early in the morning with their crowing.
No name was placed to the offending party but Bell confirmed to The Progress last night that Baker had been cited under the borough's dog ordinance that deals with excessive noise from domesticated and non-domesticated animals.
However, Baker said her rooster is no louder than the barking dogs, motorcycles, etc. in the neighborhood and said most of the neighbors aren't complaining. She said the few that are have a personal vendetta against her and accused them of stalking her.
She also asked if it was the borough's policy to reveal the identities of those who call in complaints to the animal control officer. She said Councilman James Kling verbally berated her because the animal control officer told him that she had called the animal control officer on his dog.
Baker said she believes calls should be anonymous because people will be reluctant to call in complaints if they know their identities will be revealed.
She also asked that Kling recuse himself in any votes on the matter saying it has become a personal issue with him.
Because there is a citation pending, Bell said it would be wise if Kling and Code Enforcement Officer Larry Mack not comment on the matter.
• Fire Chief Todd Kling asked if more could be done to secure abandoned buildings in the borough. Kling said the recent fire at an abandoned home on Ulerich Street illustrates this need. He said as chief he has to make a split second decision on whether to send firefighters into a building. He said he does not want to risk firefighters lives by sending them inside an abandoned building but at the same time he does not want to not send the firefighters in what he thought was an abandoned building only to find out there were some kids inside.
To remedy this, Todd Kling asked if there was a way the borough could board up the windows and secure the doors on known abandoned buildings in the borough so firefighters would know when they arrived on scene whether the building is secure and empty.
Bell said council does have the authority to secure longtime abandoned buildings under the public safety provisions of the property maintenance code and can place liens on the property to recover the cost. However, recovery of costs isn't assured or could take a long time to recover the funds because it is often difficult to track down the owners of abandoned buildings.
Council decided this was the best course of action and voted unanimously for the borough to make sure the borough secures the worst of the abandoned buildings in the borough.
"If we recover some of our money back, fine, if we don't, safety is our top concern," Councilman Tim Winters said.
Todd Kling also asked council to approve replacing the electronic flow controls on the borough's fire engine with a manual one saying the manual control is far more reliable than the electronic controls, which they are having trouble with.
He said it would cost approximately $1,000. Council approved spending up to $2,000 on the repairs.
• John Sughrue asked that council remove some of the old and dying trees in Upper and Lower Witmer parks and around the borough and said falling branches pose a health hazard. Plus he said the tree canopy over Upper Witmer Park is so dense little sunlight penetrates to the ground, which keeps it wetter than it should be.
Borough operations manager Leslie Stott, said the Shade Tree Commission is working on solutions to this problem.
Sughrue also asked if the borough is still in discussions with Lawrence Township over police regionalization.
Councilman Fred Wisor said they had some discussions with the township but said the borough is currently not considering regionalization.
Sughrue said the borough and the township should reconsider their position saying he doesn't believe the area can continue to afford the duplication of services by having to separate police departments.