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Funding sought to attract hotel to Connellsville

| Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The Connellsville Redevelopment Authority is negotiating with a local foundation to determine whether it can secure funding that would pave the way for a new hotel in the city.

Michael Edwards, the authority's executive director, told board members Tuesday evening that Hotel D2, the developer of the proposed project, asked the authority whether it could find working capital that could be available to help fund the development.

“Hotel D2 wanted us to meet with the trustees of a local foundation to see if they could help us with the project,” he said.

Edwards said the local foundation will not be identified publicly at this time because the negotiations are under way.

If the local foundation agrees to make a grant or loan to the authority, Edwards said the authority would then re-loan the money to the developer to purchase the land where the hotel will be built and complete any demolition work that will be required.

“The developer has not decided on the site yet,” he said. “They are still definitely interested in developing a hotel in Connellsville.”

In other business, the authority accepted a proposal from Widmer Engineering to begin the Gibson Avenue/Pittsburgh Street sidewalk project.

The authority agreed to pay Widmer Engineering $8,080 for the first phase of the project, which includes $5,520 to design and survey the sidewalks and $2,560 for inspection and administrative costs.

Edwards said a total of $74,000 is available for the sidewalk project, including $51,000 for the Gibson Avenue portion and $23,000 for South Pittsburgh Street.

“South Pittsburgh Street is one of the lowest income areas in the city,” he said. “The sidewalk project is designed to get people toward the shopping center. The sidewalks on South Pittsburgh Street were ruined when the city declared an emergency and tore down Fox Hardware, which was in very bad condition.”

Edwards said the city originally earmarked $51,000 for the demolition of the Aaron's Building, but the money became available for the sidewalk project several months ago when Terry “Tuffy” Shallenberger purchased the dilapidated building from the city. Shallenberger plans to renovate several floors of the historic building and tear down the remaining structure.

In other business, Edwards told authority members that Ed Opst, certified public accountant), is in the process of completing a single audit for the authority. The authority entered into a three-year contract with Opst to conduct the authority's audits.

He explained that a single audit is necessary this year because the authority spent more than $900,000 last year. An organization is subject to a single audit when more than $500,000 is spent during a one-year period.

“A single audit provides a more in-depth analysis of an organization's finances,” Edwards said. “The auditors will be checking the contracts and wage rates to make sure they are in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.”

Cindy Ekas is a contributing writer.

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