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Delmont officials announce plan for new borough building

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By Daveen Rae Kurutz
Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 8:57 a.m.
 

Delmont officials want to give up being landlords and build a new borough building.

Council last week announced plans to buy land next to the borough garage and finish developing plans to expand the garage to add office space for the borough office and police department.

“It's almost a no-brainer. We think right now is the best time to make any kind of serious move,” Council President Jim Bortz said.

“We've invested money into upgrades, and this is a good building. But that would be a 30-year, maintenance-free building with central air and a lot of green planning.”

Such a plan would leave the Delmont Public Library, which is housed in the basement of the borough building, with an uncertain future. Bortz said the library would have to “fend for themselves” but added that he hopes the move doesn't negatively affect the library.

Abandoning the library is one of many reasons council Vice President Andy Shissler is against selling the borough building. The man behind the borough's financial planning, Shissler said he isn't sure giving up the rent from the building's tenants is the best idea. He also worries about parking at the new facility and the consequence of moving from a prominent space in the borough.

“I know there are concerns that the existing borough building is getting too expensive to maintain, especially due to age of the building,” Shissler said. “I still thing there are better alternatives available. For example, the open lot behind the borough building might be large enough for a new building to house the borough office, police department and library.”

Library director Denni Grassel said she thinks council has the community's best interest in mind with the plan.

“Like the saying goes, you can't explore the ocean without losing sight of the shore,” Grassel said. “We may end up in a different place, but as long as I'm in charge, there will always be a place to get free access to books, services and knowledge in Delmont.”

Bortz said officials have worked with engineers on preliminary plans for about a year.

Borough engineers will present plans for the renovation and expansion at a community meeting later this summer. A date has not been set.

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-871-2365, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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