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Cheswick plans waterline improvement

| Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2007

Cheswick officials will begin planning a waterline improvement project that will benefit a riverfront commercial park.

The project is expected to be paid for by a $105,000 federal Community Development Block Grant and Rick Reed, the owner of the property. There will be no tax dollars used, officials said.

The project consists of extending a waterline below the railroad tracks to the riverfront property and linking to a four-inch borough line near Pittsburgh Street.

Borough Engineer Larry Seiler said the project will enable installation of at least two fire hydrants and generally improve the lines. That would allow Reed to further develop his property. Currently, there is no fire protection on the property, Seiler said.

According to council, Reed is willing to pay costs up to $40,000 in order to secure the project's completion. As part of the grant agreement, Seiler said Reed will have to create at least four jobs within three years.

"That's not hard to do," he said.

If the job creation goal isn't met, however, council may be responsible for repaying the grant money.

Council's decision Tuesday to move forward with a developer's agreement with Reed was made with one councilman opposing it.

Brian Harvanek said he doesn't believe the borough should take responsibility for improving the property.

"If a developer is going to develop the property, he needs to do that," Harvanek said.

Other council members maintain the improvements would ultimately benefit the borough because of the new jobs and a potential increase in commercial tax revenues.

Seiler and Solicitor Tony Colangelo assured council the idea of a municipality securing a grant to improve commercial properties isn't new. They said it's been done several times in Allegheny County.

Seiler said council hopes to solicit bids by the end of March and begin construction by August. The grant stipulates the project is completed by the end of the year, he said.

Council is hoping this will become the first of a two-phase project.

Originally, the borough applied for $210,000, but was only granted half of that.

Seiler said although that amount wasn't available this year, there's a strong possibility the borough could secure the remaining amount next year if the first phase is completed successfully.

If the money is granted to the borough, it will be used to replace an existed four-inch line with a six-inch line, Seiler said.

"There are no guarantees," he said. "But they said they would look favorably on the project."

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