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Scottdale commits to land bank participation

| Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Scottdale Borough Council passed a motion to become a part of the Westmoreland County Land Bank, opting to commit $5,000 to the program, which is managed by an appointed board that will conduct the purchase of properties in participating municipalities that are blighted or tax delinquent to be rehabilitated and resold.

The participating municipalities will agree to give one half of the property tax of the resold properties back to the land bank for a period of five years.

“There are other municipalities committed to it and if we don't get in on it then we may be missing the boat,” Scottdale Borough Manager Angelo Pallone said, adding that the borough would have similar funds invested in only one property that they handled on their own. “Our administrative costs alone could be that.”

Councilwomen Joan Brown said she has read extensively about the program and saw presentations on the land bank proposal.

“I think it's a very good program,” Brown said. “I think we should accept it and get involved.”

Councilman Bob Close dissented with a vote was taken.

The council also passed a motion to accept the proposed paving project for the upcoming year.

“Last year we paved 13 blocks and spent $106,000,” Pallone said. “Our budget for paving this year is $115,000.”

Pallone said borough officials looked at roads that were on the recommended paving list from last year, asked for recommendations from the street department and also listened to input from residents.

Council approved paving for Arthur Avenue, Homestead Avenue and Fountain Mills Road.

Also part of the paving project will be a turn-around area behind the Chain Bakery and the intersection of Pittsburgh and Chestnut streets.

Pallone said the borough will receive funding from Columbia Gas to put towards the Arthur Avenue paving and will look into grants that can be obtained for what is considered inner borough streets or low- volume roads.

Pallone said the borough should consider looking into weight restrictions to eliminate damage to borough roads from heavy machinery.

Pallone said other roads in the borough will be reviewed for consideration.

Councilman Jim Pallygus asked council to consider reviewing the ordinance that states bicycle riding is prohibited in the borough. There is strong interest in trying to bring riders from the Coal and Coke Trail up into the borough.

“What we are looking at is bringing the bike trail bikers into the town to the businesses,” Pallygus said. “The only problem is that you can't ride a bicycle in Scottdale.”

After discussing the issue, council agreed to review the present ordinance.

Pallygus said he would welcome input from others on the issue and reminded council that the next public meeting of the public service group is at 6:30 p.m. June 4 at the borough building when the issue of bicycles in the borough can be discussed.

Council passed a motion to no longer require residents to use an official complaint form when they have issues with property maintenance violations.

“They can just call the borough office or call their representative,” Brown said.

Council accepted a bid for $456,000 submitted by Sciaretti Site Development from Braddock for the Green Street and Graft Alley Projects.

The bid will be officially accepted upon review that confirms it covers all items listed.

Council passed motions to install two new pieces of playground equipment in the South Chestnut Street Park and to advertise for summer playground program employees.

Council received a request from the Southmoreland School district to offer the summer lunch program, provided through the USDA Summer Foods Service Program.

The program will run weekdays from June 16 through Aug. 8, excluding July 4 and will be held in Loucks Park.

The program provides free lunches to youths under the age of 18.

Deciding to remain a Single Entity Community as it has for many years under the CDBG guidelines, council voted to not become a part of the Westmoreland County CDBG Program.

“We are guaranteed approximately $80,000 a year by being a Single Entity Community,” Pallone said.

Moving closer to having the salt shed project completed, council voted to pay the $10,080.66 bill for the completion of phase I of the project and to advertise for bids for the Phase II part of the project.

Bids will be open at the June 9 meeting.

There is now information available at the borough offices on the Westmoreland County Owner-Occupied Housing Rehabilitation Program that offers no-interest deferred loans for home repairs for qualified applicants.

The Scottdale Picnic in the Park will be held Aug. 17.

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.

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