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DEP restores $30,000 for Kittanning flood wall

Renatta Signorini
| Friday, Aug. 26, 2011

Flood wall repair funds have been reinstated and Kittanning Borough has another chance to fix some of the crumbling portions of the structure.

Jennifer Bellas of the county's planning department said the state Department of Environmental Protection recently restored a $30,000 grant the borough lost this summer for the purpose of maintaining the wall that runs along North Water Street.

"They did end up having some funding," Bellas said, and the new deadline to complete work is June 30, 2012.

Kittanning originally lost the $30,000 grant because the borough failed to complete work on the flood wall using the money by June 30 of this year. The loss of the grant had a snowball effect that led to the possibility of more residents living behind the wall being required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to purchase flood insurance because the wall did not meet U.S. Army Corps of Engineers standards.

The borough was in a tough situation when in the early spring a union worker was laid off, resulting in a lack of manpower available to do the work by the grant's deadline. The grant was to have been matched in the form of labor by borough employees working on the wall.

To remedy the situation, the borough reallocated about $26,000 in its 2011 budget days before the grant was set to expire in order to bring back the laid off worker and a few other temporary employees funded by a state program. A request by the borough to extend the grant's deadline was denied by the DEP, leaving Kittanning with little resources to repair the wall.

With the reinstatement of the grant, the borough will now be able to work through the fall and complete repairs in the spring, said Streets Supervisor Jim Mechling.

He wasn't sure how long the work would take to complete, but said there appears to be enough workers to match the grant. Workers will begin by jackhammering down bad spots and replacing the concrete, Mechling said. Some of the monoliths may need to be completely replaced.

Work on the wall will be conducted between Beech Street and the area of the Allegheny Mariner.

Bellas said the Army Corps of Engineers plans to meet with FEMA to discuss the flood wall and the flood insurance issue.

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