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Uniontown makes improvements to sewer line

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Friday, Feb. 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Uniontown City Council moved ahead this week with a $1.5 million project to make necessary improvements to the Redstone interceptor, a 90-year-old main sewer line feeding the plant that provides sewer service to residents in the city as well as South Union and North Union townships.

The city recently secured a $1 million grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for the project through its H20 program, which funds sewer and water projects, according to John Over of K2 Engineering, the city's engineering firm.

Over explained that the grant requires a 50 percent match or $500,000. Uniontown's share is estimated at $266,000, and South Union and North Union townships will split the remaining cost. The three municipalities have an agreement that outlines how the cost of sewer line improvements is shared.

City Council unanimously agreed to hire Lisa Chiesa, an attorney for the Thorp, Reed & Armstrong law firm in Pittsburgh, to prepare the loan settlement documents with PennVEST, which is loaning the money to the city at a low interest rate for the next 20 years. Compensation for Chiesa's work is estimated at $3,000, but city solicitor J.W. Eddy said the city's share will be about $1,500.

Eddy recommended that the city hire Chiesa to complete the complicated process.

“The city could probably take care of the loan settlement documents on its own, but it's a complicated process,” Eddy said. “I think we need to hire an expert in the field.”

Although the interest rate is estimated at 1.8 percent for the first five years, Eddy said, it will increase slightly during the remaining 15 years.

City Council also hired Chiesa to negotiate a $500,000 interim bank loan until funding becomes available for the project.

Mayor Edward Fike and several council members expressed concerns about borrowing the money.

“We were told at a recent meeting that if the sewage rates were raised a nickel every month for each customer, we could come up with the $500,000,” Fike said. “We hate to borrow the money when we have done everything that we can to keep costs down. The city doesn't want to get into a lot of debt.”

Over told council that the Redstone interceptor project is very important.

“The project is really going to help with our infiltration problems,” Over said.

Phil Mahoney, director of the city's public works department, said completing the project will eliminate a very costly upgrade to the sewer plant in the future.

“This will really improve the flow of the pipes,” Mahoney said.

Since the city has an agreement with both townships, Over said, it will not be necessary to receive approval from North Union and South Union townships to proceed with the project.

“The agreement with the townships is already in place,” Over said. “They have to reimburse us for their share of the project. The cost for the townships is based on how much sewage goes through the plant.”

In other business, council:

• Agreed to review speed bump procedures and engineering guidelines prepared by Over that could resolve speeding problems in the Oakland Avenue neighborhood.

• Decided to assist Cindy Moore of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank with a summer feeding program for Fayette County children.

• Appointed Jerome Venick to the Uniontown Planning Commission for a three-year term.

• Refunded the Uniontown Area School District $3,080 for prepaid parking for 2013 near the Central Administrative Building on East Church Street, which was recently sold. School administrative offices are now located in the senior high school.

• Authorized payment of $1,500 to McClure & Wolf for the Downtown Business District Authority for the 2011 audit.

Cindy Ekas is a freelance writer.

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