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Connellsville to buy land around Aaron's Building

| Thursday, June 20, 2013, 6:57 p.m.

The city of Connellsville will spend $25,000 to purchase different parcels of land surrounding the Aaron's building at the corner of Apple and Pittsburgh streets.

Council agreed to the decision during its meeting Wednesday night.

Mayor Charles Matthews said their intent is to purchase the land and then include it in the sale of the Aaron's building to local businessman Terry Shallenberger Jr. for a $1 transaction price.

“Our choices in regards to the Aaron's building were to either get rid of the building (by selling it) and have someone restore it or find the money, approximately $200,000, to tear it down,” Matthews said.

He said it was cheaper for them to buy the adjacent property for $25,000 and include it in the sale to Shallenberger than to demolish the structure.

“Although we've spent $25,000, we saved $200,000 of (Community Development Block Grant) money by not having to demolish it,” Matthews said.

Councilman Gregory Ritch said it has been a very painstaking but good endeavor.

“We will have our naysayers, but this will pay long-term dividends for the city,” he said. “Let's move forward and do the best thing.”

Another motion was passed to transfer the $25,000 from the parking authority fund to the general fund to purchase the surrounding parcels.

Matthews said the transfer was a one-time thing and would more than likely not be replaced to the parking authority fund.

In other business, council agreed to introduce an ordinance amendment that would eliminate fees if an individual needs to dig up city sidewalks adjacent to their property.

Councilman Tom Karpiak said property owners would still have to get permission to dig up sidewalks, but there wouldn't be any permit fees.

Council agreed to appoint Harold Hartz to the Connellsville Housing Authority and Cecelia Driscoll to the Connellsville Zoning Board.

During public comment, Joseph Pancella addressed council with harsh words about code enforcement officer Tom Currey in regard to a recent situation involving a stray cat behind Atkins Music.

A hearing was held recently for Atkins Music business owner Denise Friel because the cat was not on a leash.

“From our investigations with the people of this town, he seems to go after the poor, single women/widowers and mentally challenged people,” Pancella said. “Somebody has empowered him to feel that we are not only beneath him, but that he is actually above the law.”

Councilwoman Marilyn Weaver, who works closely with Currey on the city's health board, said she was not going to argue with anyone about their opinion of Currey. She said she has been proud of the work he's done over the past three years.

“I'm proud of the health board's work and their recommendations, and I felt these comments were a bit out of line, but everyone has a right to their opinion,” she said.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.

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