Homer City officials address parking crunch at football field
By Jeff Himler
Published: Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, 7:02 p.m.
As Homer-Center High School's fortunes have prospered on the football field this fall, demand for on-street parking around Homer City's Memorial Field has tested the limits of available spaces.
Borough officials expect the demand for parking to peak during the Wildcats' Oct. 18 and Oct. 25 home games, when the Homer-Center squad will meet two other top conference contenders — Ligonier Valley and then Penns Manor.
In the hope of relieving the expected parking crunch, borough council has authorized Mayor Ken “Cal” Cecconi to write Homer-Center officials. Cecconi said at council's Oct. 1 meeting that he would ask the district to urge visiting teams and their fans to park on the nearby district school campus, which the mayor indicated has already been designated to handle overflow game parking.
Cecconi noted that having buses for visiting teams park at the school after unloading their passengers at the field would free up additional parking for passenger cars along Harrison Street, which fronts the field's main gate.
“There's always buses parked on the south side of Harrison Street,” noted Homer City Police Chief Louis Sacco.
In police matters, Cecconi announced that two part-time officers have been hired to help fill gaps in the roster. The two new officers are David Clawson II and Charles Waller.
Cecconi also reported that two older police cruisers are out of service for regular patrols due to maintenance problems, and he noted that making repairs could cost more than the vehicles are worth. He cited estimated costs of $1,768 to address a failed anti-lock brake system in one of the cars and $357 for a short in the light bar of the second cruiser.
Without a repair, Sacco said, the second cruiser would be suitable only for limited non-emergency transport duty.
Borough officials discussed the possibility of trading in both vehicles toward purchase of a new cruiser. Borough manager Rob Nymick suggested Homer City could take advantage of the state's COSTARS bid program for such a purchase.
Sacco pointed out the past six police vehicles the borough obtained for its police fleet were all covered by grants. But, he said, “That money has dried up now.”
Council members reviewed an early working version of the tentative 2014 borough budget that includes a proposed total of $510,155 in revenues and expenditures, but Nymick noted there are factors remaining to be decided that would affect the version of the spending plan ultimately approved by year's end.
For now, Nymick said, additions to the proposed budget include increased funding for recreation — up by $1,000 from the previous year — and a new $1,000 line item for grant-writing services. Costs for health benefits also are expected to increase.
Last month, borough officials discussed various recreational funding options Homer City might pursue with the assistance of its new grant-writing consultant, Denise Jennings-Doyle.
At the October meeting, council President Richard Morris appointed a committee of council members Jennifer Jaworski, Matt Black and Chris Worcester to look into possibly pursuing a federal Department of Agriculture grant to help with needed improvements at the town's public swimming pool.
Jaworski, who represents the borough on the Homer-Center Parks and Recreation Board that manages the pool, said a wooden pavilion and deck at the facility need repaired or replaced.
“That pavilion is pretty bad,” Black agreed.
Carol Kercel, who expressed concern last month about an ill-maintained house next to a property she owns along South Main Street, asked for an update on the matter.
Borough solicitor Michael Supinka advised that the borough currently has no power to address rundown structures but, with the proper ordinance in place, could pursue action against nuisance and dangerous structures.
Morris said the borough planning commission has been asked to begin work on such an ordinance.
Steve Smeltzer, rescue captain for the Homer City Volunteer Fire Department, reported that the department is forming a QRS (quick response service) unit. He explained members of the unit will serve as a back-up to a local Citizens' Ambulance Service staffer, for providing initial response to incidents where emergency medical attention is needed.
“This is an add-on to help Citizens,'” said councilman Joe Iezzi, who also is a member of the fire department.
Smeltzer said the QRS unit has nine members, about half of whom also are Citizens' employees, and is looking to increase that number to a dozen.
He also noted that the fire department will play host to its second annual Breast Cancer Bingo event at 2 p.m. Oct. 27 to benefit the women's imaging center at Indiana Regional Medical Center.
Cecconi announced that the borough will observe Halloween festivities on Oct. 31. The Halloween parade will be held at 5:45 p.m., beginning at the laundromat and heading north on Main Street to the fire hall. Trick-or-treating will follow from 6 to 8 p.m.
Homer City's second annual town hall meeting has tentatively been set for 6 p.m. Nov. 12 at the fire hall. The plans for the meeting depended on confirming the availability of the venue at that time.
The Homer City Farmers' Market is scheduled to continue until the last Friday in October. The market is held from 3 to 6 p.m. each Friday at Floodway Park, just off North Main Street.
Jeff Himler is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2910 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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