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Costly Monessen drainage project nearly complete

| Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, 12:06 a.m.

The Ninth Street drainage project in Monessen is nearly complete, pending final road repairs and installation of a roadside drain, a city official said.

City Administrator John Harhai said at Wednesday's Monessen Council meeting that the approximately $100,000 repair project, necessitated after water drainage and accumulation compromised the stability of the surrounding land, is 90 to 95 percent complete.

Harhai said engineers have installed a drain at the bottom of the former landfill located behind the rear of Ninth Street Park. The T-shaped tunnel pipe was installed at the bottom of the 30-foot gorge to the right of the road, insuring that future runoff will drain into a sewage line, eliminating sitting water that forced an initial collapse of the area in early August.

The emergency project had to be paid out of the city's general fund, Harhai said.

As for Ninth Street, the layer of porous surface underneath had hardened over the years and stopped allowing the water to drain properly, damaging the roadway above, Harhai said. The road had continuously been built up over the years from its original brick foundation, he said.

“The next step is putting a drain underneath the Ninth Street roadway to collect the water and transfer it over to a catch basin,” Harhai said. “If we don't do that, we're going to have the same issue we had three months ago where the water is coming between the concrete and the slag underneath.”

The catch basin will be installed within the next three weeks, Harhai said, adding the city will put down a base so motorists can utilize Ninth Street safely over the winter. Workers have already laid asphalt millings along the road surface.

In other action, council approved several expenditures for October, including $348,811 out of the general fund, and authorized city clerk Rosalie Nicksich to apply for a $500,000 tax anticipation loan. The loan will be used to help offset expenses until 2014 real estate tax payments are due.

Mayor Mary Jo Smith reminded residents the city's annual Halloween parade will be at 7 tonight and trick or treat is from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

The meeting's public comment session ended with an awkward exchange between Councilman Josh Retos and Monessen Republican mayor nominee Rob Zynosky.

Zynosky addressed council and residents in attendance, challenging Democratic opponent Lou Mavrakis – who was not at the meeting – to a public debate. The general election is Nov. 5.

Retos cut Zynosky short after the candidate said, “I would like to have a public debate with Mr. Mavrakis where the residents can ask…”

“Rob, Rob,” Retos interjected. “You can't do that.”

“It's a public comment,” Zynosky countered.

“I understand what you're saying and you have every right to challenge Mr. Mavrakis, but this isn't the forum for this particular statement,” Retos said.

“It doesn't matter anyway,” Zynosky said. “The point's across.”

In other action, council:

• Authorized the city to advertise for installations of the recently purchased Brown Street clock and other improvements along Donner Avenue near the Public Safety Building.

• Approved the sale of property at 445 McKean Ave. to David Crews.

• Ratified the hiring of Richard DiMascio as a part-time employee in the code enforcement office not to exceed 10 hours per week at $9.50 per hour.

• Approved Matt Shorraw's request to change the third annual Raise Your Voice Music and Arts Festival at City Park from April 26 to May 3, 2014.

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-684-2635.