Saltsburg resident speaks in defense of former mill building cited for ordinance violations
Saltsburg resident Kathy McCormick came before Saltsburg Borough Council Monday to speak in defense of Altman's Feed Mill and its owners, who have been fined repeatedly for building ordinance violations.
The former mill building currently houses Saltsburg River & Trail and is co-owned by Eric Sutliff, who received another six-month extension through the court in August to either sell the building or make the necessary improvements to bring it up to code.
“This building has so much history for this town,” McCormick said, noting that the building's 100th year went by in 2012 without any fanfare.
She said the structure also has worth to the community through the business it houses, which brings in visitors wanting to make use of the area's trails and waterways.
She said Sutliff pays his taxes on his property and employs up to 10 people during the peak season, and the community benefits from the taxes paid on the income from his business.
“There's not one other business in this town that can claim they bring that amount of people to this town who spend money here,” she said.
McCormick said Sutliff had been in touch with an area foundation about securing funding for renovations to the mill. She said he asked the Saltsburg Area Historical Society to apply for the funding on behalf of the mill, since funding can only be approved through a nonprofit organization, but she claimed the historical society turned down the request.
When contacted after council's regular Monday meeting, Jack Maguire, Saltsburg Area Historical Society treasurer and past president, said Sutliff had worked to secure a grant several years ago, but a condition of the funding was that the historical society had to take on ownership of the building, which the organization was not in a position to do.
McCormick urged council to put aside its differences with Sutliff in order to help save the structure.
“Saltsburg needs this building and this business to bring in revenue,” McCormick said. “As community leaders, you should do everything for the betterment of the community, not destroy it.”
She said council should reach out to Sutliff to work together to fix the situation. She also offered to serve as a liaison between council and Sutliff.
“These petty little fines are ridiculous,” she stated.
“Things are moving forward,” Council President P.J. Hruska said, noting that Sutliff has hired someone to do some of the repair work needed at the mill.
“Right now, it is a safety hazard,” said Kathy Muir, council vice president. “And we cannot take the liability of something happening down there.”
“This council would like to see the old mill in a much better state,” Hruska said.
But Muir said council cannot wait another six months to two years for the necessary repairs to be made to make the building safe.
“We are definitely trying to work with Eric to get the ball rolling,” Hruska said.
Jack Edmundson, who is a member of the fire department, asked council to consider putting a policy in place for snow removal that would incorporate parking schedules for various streets in order for street crews to remove snow from each side of the street.
It was noted that forecasters are predicting a tough winter and it wouldn't hurt to look ahead into the issue.
In other business, council members:
• Approved Saltsburg Area Historical Society's request to hold its Tag Days fundraiser from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 18 and from 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 19.
• Set the borough's Halloween trick-or-treating for 5-7 p.m. Oct. 30 with the parade to follow at 7 p.m. downtown. Council also approved a donation of $200 to the Saltsburg Volunteer Fire Department for treats for the parade participants.
• Approved an agreement with Berkheimer Tax Administrator for the LST tax, otherwise known as the $10 occupation tax — $5 of which goes to the school district and $5 to the borough. The agreement is for changes being made to how the tax is collected. Council also passed a resolution to allow Berkheimer to impose and retain costs of collection on delinquent taxes.
• Noted that the borough's estimated liquid fuels income for 2014 will be $18,773.13.
• Announced the Saltsburg Free Library is now open Saturdays and will soon offer Internet access.
Gina DelFavero is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2915 or firstname.lastname@example.org.