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Uniontown will upgrade police station

| Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

Uniontown City Council took action Wednesday to make safety improvements at the current police station and to consider the possibility of assuming ownership of the former police station.

Council unanimously agreed to accept the low bidder, B.Z. Construction, LLC, with its revised proposal of $30,000 to replace doors and windows at the current police station located on Penn Street behind the Fayette County Courthouse.

John Over of K2 Engineering recommended that council accept the revised proposal.

“It's necessary that we improve safety issues at the current police station,” Over said. “The windows and doors need to be replaced.”

Councilman Gary Gearing asked solicitor J.W. Eddy if it was necessary for the city to advertise for bids a second time because “the scope of the project changed.”

“We decided to use value-engineered materials. We reduced the gauge of the steel door,” Over said. “We also decided to do some of the work, such as painting, in-house to save some money.”

Eddy said another bidding process would not be necessary because the city modified the work by less than 20 percent.

Council tabled action on authorizing Eddy to execute a quick-claim deed for the former police station, located on Peter Street near city hall.

The former police station is currently owned by R.W. and Lana Washabaugh of Fort Worth, Texas, according to Eddy.

“There have been many code violations at the building,” Eddy said. “The property owners issued the city a quick-claim deed for the property but we prefer a general warranty or a special warranty. In any case, we will have the title to the building.”

Council agreed to table a decision on the issue to allow Eddy an opportunity to find out if the Washabaughs will issue a general warranty or special warranty on the building.

“I don't know exactly what plans the city has for the building,” Eddy said.

Over said the older building has sustained significant interior and exterior damage.

“The ceiling in the building actually fell,” Over said. “I don't know if the city wants to tear it down and install a parking lot at the site or spend about $100,000 to make necessary repairs.”

Mayor Ed Fike said the Washabaughs purchased the building from the city for $2,500 in 1996, but never renovated it.

In other business, city employee Phil Mahoney said he wanted to warn Uniontown and South Union Township residents of sewage and water line scams.

Mahoney said out-of-town plumbing companies are coming into Fayette County and overcharging residents to make water and sewage line repairs.

“The city needs to address this problem,” Mahoney said. “The Pittsburgh contractors are ripping off elderly homeowners. We want the public to know that any contractor must be licensed by the city in order to do any work in Uniontown. We recommend that homeowners receive at least two bids before they hire a contractor.”

Mahoney said the scams are costing Uniontown homeowners large sums of money.

“I know one homeowner who was charged $12,000 for a $700 job,” Mahoney said. “The companies are coming into town with preauthorized credit cards and unsuspecting homeowners are signing these cards and signing contracts with the companies. We want residents to know that there are some pretty bad people out there who want to rip them off.”

Council members agreed to publish a list of licensed contractors in city hall for public review.

“We want people to come into city hall and check the list to make sure the contractors they are hiring are licensed,” Over said.

Over announced that he will hold a public meeting at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to announce the results of a traffic study in the Oakland Avenue neighborhood.

Cindy Ekas is a freelance writer.

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