Donora still smarting over bank exodus
By Jeremy Sellew
Published: Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, 1:06 a.m.
Like a superstar athlete preparing for a big game, Donora Mayor John Lignelli was throwing out guarantees at the end of the borough council meeting Thursday.
When the discussion turned to the losses of PNC and Citizen's Bank, the mayor could not hold back.
“We will have something in this town,” he loudly exclaimed. “Trust me. We will have something.”
Resident Terry Perrotta said she was shocked that during the meeting, no one on council or Lignelli mentioned the bank branches closing.
“They're making Donora a ghost town,” Perrotta proclaimed. “I have to do my aunt's banking for her, and now I have to go out of town.
“I'm not really worried about it because I have a car. I'm more concerned about the senior citizens in the town that don't drive. What are they going to do?”
Perrotta said she was glad to hear Lignelli has something in the works with another lending institution and told council she has talked to officials from PNC and other banks about coming to the borough.
“I spoke to Tom Graney at Charleroi Federal in Monongahela, and he said they wouldn't be interested in putting a branch here,” Perrotta said. “He said that banks are losing too much money, and that no one in Donora is taking out loans.”
Councilman Thomas Kostolansky said that when the mayor and council met with PNC officials, the bankers showed no interest in hearing the pitch to stay in town.
“That's really sad, because this borough does business with PNC,” Kostolansky said. “I feel that if we do get another bank or credit union, whatever it is, everyone in the borough should honor that business and switch their accounts.
“It's a shame because we have no school, we don't have a church downtown ... PNC wouldn't even consider backing off their motion to close.”
Kostolansky said he has done business with PNC since 1972. For Councilwoman Marie Trozzo, it's been even longer.
“I've been with PNC when it was PNB, since 1965,” Trozzo said. “I told that gentleman when we met that I feel like they're deserting me. There's so much electronic banking now, they don't need people.”
Council President Dr. Karen Polkabla said PNC officials indicated that the ATM machine will remain at the intersection of Sixth Street and McKean Avenue.
After hearing complaints from Steve Grcich of 504 10th St., council announced it will issue its first $1,000 citation for failure to tap in to the new sewage system.
Grcich complained of the stench caused by a nonfunctioning septic system at 506 10th St.
“The weather is getting warmer, and it's been warmer the past few days,” Grcich said. “If I leave my car windows down parked in front of my house, I have to drive almost two miles just to air it out. What is the borough going to do about it?”
Councilman Jason Menendez said it has been a problem for nearly seven years, and the solution was the borough providing sewage service.
“Well, now we have the sewage, and I don't think that is going to matter,” Menendez said. “The deadline was going to be March 1, but I think we should send this citation now.
“It's gone on too long. If you look in the back, there's actually a pool of waste.
Menendez ripped the unnamed scofflaws.
“We both know that it doesn't matter when they get cited,” he said. “You can cite them from now until doomsday, and it won't matter. If they don't pay, they'll face the consequences at the magistrate.”
The original deadline for residents to tap in was Feb. 1, but Menendez said another month was added to give residents a final chance to comply.
Grcich said the original owners moved out of the house, but the daughter of those residents has since moved in.
“You come down on a nice warm day and sit on my porch,” Grcich said.
“There are still quite a few stragglers who haven't done anything toward tapping into the system,” Menendez said. “Maybe if we issue the citation, this will get them moving on it.”
Council agreed to reallocate the following Community Development Block Grant money in an effort to begin repairs to the Sixth Street parking garage.
• $40,000 from 2010, originally slated for a street sign replacement project.
• $20,000 from 2011, originally slated for the street sign project.
• $179,000 from 2013, originally for the milling and repaving of McKean Avenue.
The money from the street sign project will be immediately available for an engineering analysis, contract specifications and a request for proposals for the parking garage project. The $179,000 will become available during the last quarter of 2013 and will be used for construction costs.
Polkabla said the borough is going ahead with the street sign replacement. The money will come from the capital reserve fund.
Code Enforcement Officer Tim Durka said the borough will save money on the project because the street department will handle the work.
In other matters:
• Polkabla said the borough's seat on the Mon Valley Sewage Authority Board has been vacated. Any taxpayer who is a resident of the borough or maintains a business in the borough, can submit a letter of intent, including qualifications, to council by March 6.
• People interested in raising vegetables or flowers on their own plots in a community garden, or experienced gardeners willing to help with a community garden project should visit the Donora Public Library or go online to email@example.com. Kostolansky said council will tour the borough with library officials to seek a location for the garden.
Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-684-2667.
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