The mayor said that because it's true
Monessen Mayor Anthony Petaccia submitted the following response to an April 24 letter by Cass-andra Vivian titled "Did the Mayor really say that?'
To the Editor:
When I became the mayor of Monessen 2 1/2 years ago, I met with Alan Kukovich from the governor's southwestern Pennsylvania office. He toured the city building with me. Over the last year I met with Jack Machek from the governor's action team, who also toured the city building with me. Sen. Stout and State Rep. Ted Harhai have talked to me several times about the condition of the city building. They have all come to the same conclusion; there is not large amounts of money available to repair old buildings. The city may be able to get increments of $25,000, $50,000 or possibly $100,000 to help with repairs, but as the taxpayers know, we need anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million to make the building handicap accessible and to get the building up to code.
Anyone who has ever dealt with grants knows the process takes a year to a year and a half to actually receive the money. Grants are distributed in waves, usually once or twice a year. To accumulate the amount of money the city needs to complete the project could take any-where from 10 to 15 years.
I contacted Augie Carlino, director of the Rivers of Steel organization, a little over two years ago and just recently about grants for the city building. He confirmed the largest amount that the city could apply for is $100,000. The grant runs on year increments starting February of every year. Even if the city applies for this grant, there is no guarantee the city would get the grant. Grants are political in nature, and many communities apply for the same grant, the grant going to the community with the greatest need.
Another reason, and a big reason that the city did not apply, is the city needs to match the grant. Rivers of Steel Grants cannot be a reimbursable grant nor can it be money that is just given to the city. I repeat the city must have the amount in hand before the grant is applied for. We do not have the money to match the grant. To complete the whole building we would need $300,000 to $500,000 of the city's money. By the time we finish the project in 10 to 15 years, more things will need to be repaired. Now Cassandra, you talk about elected officials having their own agendas and myself receiving wrong information, but I have checked with these knowledgeable people, who I feel we can trust.
As mayor, I run the police department, I am not in charge of parks and public properties, but I took it upon myself to accumulate this extra information to help the city and the taxpayers. I had the numbers worked up for a new city building, but never had the votes to move forward with that plan. The building would have housed the city offices, police and fire station. It would have given the firemen the space they needed. All this would have only cost us a little more than what we are paying to maintain our building now. As all the taxpayers in Monessen know, we also never had the votes to move to the Health Center Annex which is the best solution for the city. It is the best solution because we pay too much in utility and maintenance expenses to stay in our current building. We need something more cost efficient. Cassandra, I appreciate your passion for historic preservation, but as the mayor I need to use common sense and do what I feel is best for the city.
I feel that I give 100 percent on everything I do, and I will be relentless until the city gets what it needs. In my 2 1/2 years as mayor, with the help of elected officials, we have received these grants: $150,000 for Grand Blvd., $125,000 for the boat dock, $70,000 for the walking trail project at KOZ Zone, $25,000 for a new police car, $25,000 for computer equipment, $25,000 for Jefferson Drive Sewage Project, $10,000 for K-9 Dog upkeep, totaling $430,000 in grants. I am currently working on a downtown project grant, and a K-9 vehicle grant. I think this is a pretty good record, much better than past administrations. Were you aware of these grants, Cassandra• These grants show that I do work hard for the city and that no one stands between me and the people. Therefore, in reference to your letter, how can you say, "To get grants, you have to get off your collective _."
Cassandra, I have always supported your projects. The city gave the Historical Society $5,000 a few years ago -- money that could have been used on our building. I attended your meetings and was on board when you wanted to make blocks of the downtown historic areas. I am still waiting for students from California University to help us map downtown properties and complete this project. In many of the letters you wrote over the past several years, you accused city officials of fighting and not working together for the betterment of Monessen. By you picking a political side and bashing me and other elected officials, you are doing the same thing you are accusing us of doing. So that we don't continue to write letters to the editor, why don't we call a town meeting at the Heritage Museum with the press present at the meeting• All questions could then be asked and answered and the information could be printed in the paper and the taxpayers will know the truth.
Mayor of Monessen