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Connellsville council earmarks $35K for fire truck, $50K for demolition

| Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 7:06 a.m.

Connellsville City Council agreed Wednesday night to revise its allocation for 2013 Community Development Block Grant funding after residents voiced their concerns about how the money would be spent.

Council originally planned to allocate $85,000 to the New Haven Hose Company for the purchase of a new $526,000 fire truck.

After city residents expressed their opinions during a public hearing, council changed its plan. Instead of allocating the entire $85,000 for the fire truck, council decided to spend $50,000 on building demolition and earmark $35,000 for the purchase of the fire truck.

“The grant application has to be submitted by Sept. 6,” Connellsville Mayor Charles W. Matthews said. “As long as we have enough time to change it, we will submit the revised plan.”

If the Connellsville Redevelopment Authority did not have enough time to make the revisions and meet the Sept. 6 deadline, Matthews said the city would be required to hold another public hearing before the changes can be made.

About 30 residents applauded after council made the decision.

In addition to the $85,000 for the fire truck and building demolition, the remaining CDBG funding will be earmarked as follows: $115,000 for the Francis Street storm sewer and road construction project; $15,000 for East Park improvements; and $31,000 for code enforcement.

Council also reallocated CDBG grant funding from 2009 through 2012 that had been set aside for demolition of the Aaron's building. Local businessman Terry “Tuffy” Shallenberger recently purchased the building for $1. He plans to tear down the top floors and remodel the building for use as a banquet facility and apartments.

Instead of spending $23,000 in 2009 CDBG funding for building demolition, council reallocated $10,000 for community center improvements and $13,000 for fire equipment for New Haven Hose Company.

An additional $40,000 in CDBG funding from 2010 and $25,000 from the following year was reallocated for the fire truck.

CDBG funding for 2012 will be used as follows: $7,000 for the fire truck; $35,000 to demolish residential structures; and $31,000 for improvements to East Park and Mountz Creek Park.

Although $31,000 was originally allocated for East Park improvements, Melissa Tzan of the city's Parks and Recreation Board asked council to allocate a portion of the money to Mountz Creek Park.

“It probably isn't going to take that much money for us to complete Mountz Creek Park,” she said. “We just want to have that option if we decide to go in that direction.”

Cindy Ekas is a contributing writer.

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