Ford City wrestles with $600K question
A veritable who's who of Ford City turned out on Tuesday to suggest solutions to Ford City's $600,000 question. But there are no answers yet.
The borough has until Aug. 31 to propose repayment options for a $581,000 federal grant default.
Councilwoman Vickie Schaub has reached out to the federal Economic Development Agency, which is calling for the grant's repayment in some form. She said she has spoken with its director, Willie Taylor, to get an idea of what the borough can do.
“He mentioned property, buildings,” she said. “He kept stressing, ‘be creative.' ”
Schaub said she reached out to Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler, and Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, and Bob Casey, D-Scranton.
The borough violated the terms of a 2000 grant for development of a First Avenue industrial site, according to the EDA.
The agreement called for the borough to own the property until 2017.
Farmers & Merchants Bank of Kittanning foreclosed on it in 2008 after Ford City's community development corporation, which managed the grant, went bankrupt.
After foreclosure, F&M bought the eight-acre property, home to OEM Shades and Belleflex Technologies.
That turn of events, according to the EDA, was a violation that left Ford City on the hook for the full amount of the grant.
Without a solution accepted by the EDA, officials said, Ford City will be ineligible for federal grants.
About a dozen community members showed up for Tuesday's meeting.
They shared ideas with the three council members present, as well as a small group formed to help with the issue.
In addition to Schaub, Mayor Marc Mantini, council President Kathy Bartuccio, Councilman Gene Banks and interim borough Manager Eden Ratliff attended.
Among suggestions was a face-to-face meeting with EDA officials. A number of residents and borough officials said that may be a good move.
“You'd be surprised, face-to-face, what can happen,” said Homer Pendleton, a former councilman and member of the former CDC.
Lou Vergari, who once served as council president agreed.
“I think we should go down there and make the effort,” said. He also said they could present the EDA with possible properties.
Residents expressed concerns over losing valuable real estate, particularly land along the Allegheny River.
“You don't want to give up our riverfront property,” said Rachel Dinus, a Ford City resident and member of Ford City Legacy, Inc.
She echoed the sentiments of several at the meeting regarding the 50 acres of borough land once owned by PPG.
“I think if you lose the 50 acres, you kill the town,” said Ryan Bloser, a resident and businessman. “You guys fought long and hard for it.”
Others suggested looking to the past for answers.
The meeting, officials said, was the last that would be open to the public. About an hour in, Tuesday's meeting was closed to the public and media.
Closed-door meetings would be held moving forward so sensitive information about matters like real estate or legal issues would not be disclosed, according to officials.
Julie E. Martin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303, x 1315 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- School bus, car crash in Armstrong
- Historical society seeks to grow interest in Armstrong County museum, library
- Dollar General to take place of Spagnolo’s Foodland
- Peanut Butter Festival to whip up family fun in New Bethlehem
- Armstrong School District credits grant with healthy habits
- New Kensington man charged in Leechburg drug sale
- FirstEnergy employees picket but keep working
- Armstrong County married dentists passing torch to their children
- Health Day for women at Kittanning YMCA
- Manor festival offers 75 rock bands over 3 days
- DEP to probe use of Ford City water plant grant