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Council to scale down Main Street project

| Tuesday, March 20, 2001

MOUNT PLEASANT - Five years after plans began for a possible Main Street project, Mount Pleasant still lacks the funds to begin, due in a big part to new PennDOT regulations concerning traffic lights.

According to Councilman Michael Tabita at Monday's meeting, the bids opened last week for construction of the project came in approximately $70,000 over the $300,000 allocated to the borough by the county in the form of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding.

That $70,000 for the street light part of the project, plus extra costs to Allegheny Power and the engineering firm, Herbert, Rowland & Grubic Inc. (HRG) of Cranberry for the same PennDOT regulations, will put the project approximately $193,000 over the amount the borough had dedicated to the fund, according to Kevin Creagh, spokesperson for HRG.

'We've been working on this project for four of five years now in one phase or another and it's been in my thoughts for days and weeks since Jack Gradler (former council member) told me of the project,' said Tabita.

'It will make our Main Street district one of the best-looking Main Street's in Westmoreland County if not all of Southwestern Pennsylvania,' he said. 'It's going to make people want to come and live here, and we've got to ensure our tax base in the future.'

The original plans for the Main Street project included decorative street lights, benches and trash containers as well as underground telephone and cable wires.

According to Tabita, there is still the possibility of putting the project together, but it would mean cutting the project, beginning at College Avenue and ending on Diamond Street, instead of beginning at Church Street as originally planned.

Even after cutting out different frills, such as curbing, the sound system and the 275 feet between Church Street and College Avenue (550 feet counting both sides of the street), the borough may still come up short on funds for the project, said Creagh.

Zottola Construction Company, out of Pittsburgh, was the low bidder for the project, and after an earlier meeting Monday, agreed to work with the borough on a scaled down version of the project.

Councilman Gene Rosky questioned whether there were any grants or funds available out there that the borough could apply for so the entire project could be completed.

According to Tabita, the time frame that they're working under would not allow enough time to apply for anything like that.

Creagh said the borough has a three- to four-week window to 'make this thing happen,' stating that the construction company would not wait forever.

A motion was passed by council to direct HRG to change the specifics of the project and send them to the contractor, who would in turn come up with a revised project cost.

'In the meantime, we can see what additional funds we could scrape up to complete the project,' said Rosky.

According to Creagh, the borough would not only have to get with the contractors before the project could happen, but also receive a revised estimate from Allegheny Power and assess whether the project was plausible or not.

Council wants to get the new revised project cost from the engineer by the next meeting and will hopefully be able to make a decision of whether the project can go forward or not at that time.

'This (the project) is what's going to help Mount Pleasant continue on,' said Tabita. 'Right now we all have a responsibility to Mount Pleasant, and hopefully in the future, when we look back, we'll have had the foresight to make Mount Pleasant a better place to live.'

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