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Heidelberg businesses get grants to upgrade facades

| Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item
Chartiers Animal Hospital was among 10 businesses on East Railroad Street in Heidelberg to obtain grants from the borough to spruce up their facades. Planned projects range from installing new awnings and rebuilding retaining walls to painting and installing new lighting.
This property at 1913 East Railroad St. was one of 12 in Heidelberg to qualify for a $1,000 loan to improve its facade.

A dozen properties in Heidelberg's business district will obtain grants from the borough to spruce up their facades.

Heidelberg Council on July 16 approved grants worth $1,000 each for the owners of 10 properties on East Railroad Street and two on Second Street. Planned projects range from installing new awnings and rebuilding retaining walls to painting and installing new lighting.

Property owners applied for the Heidelberg Business District Facade Improvement Program money via a process that required detailing proposed improvements and providing a price quote. The grants reimburse up to 50 percent of improvement costs, and the maximum grant amount is $1,000.

“We are excited to be able to award these façade grants that will truly have a long-lasting impact on the Heidelberg business community,” borough Mayor Ken LaSota said.

Sweat equity

The Heidelberg Community Room now has ample parking.

Through a partnership with PennDOT, the borough was able to have a nearby lot paved at no cost to the community, providing nine parking spaces.

The partnership, known as an agility agreement, is “a shared work plan between the borough and PennDOT, where Heidelberg swaps services with PennDOT,” borough Manager Joe Kauer said.

The borough cuts grass, picks up litter and removes roadkill on state roads in the borough, for example, and the exchange is in-kind work from PennDOT.

Borough public works employees built the foundation and base for the lot, leaving PennDOT to do the paving. Kauer said this move saved the borough nearly $20,000.

The Heidelberg Community Room is located three doors from the borough building, at 1619 East Railroad St., and it houses the borough historical society and monthly senior program. Anyone interested in renting the room should fill out a form on the borough website or in the borough office.

Money movement

Council also approved transferring $55,000 in surplus funds from the 2012 general fund to various capital accounts: $39,800 to the park fund; $9,800 to the equipment money market fund; $4,800 to the road fund. In addition, $600 was transferred to the budgetary reserve fund.

“As part of the borough's long-term capital budget plan, the fund transfers are allocated for future capital projects,” Kauer said.

Money allocated to the park fund will be used for renovations of the playground on Ellsworth Avenue, and funds moved to the equipment account will be put toward replacing a police cruiser next year.

Money transferred to the road fund will go toward paving Grant Avenue, from Hayes Street to Ellsworth Avenue, a project tentatively scheduled for next year.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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