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Plum town center moves closer to reality

| Thursday, June 4, 2009

Borough officials may soon begin engineering work for a proposed town center in the Renton neighborhood.

Council on Monday is expected to approve using a $300,000 federal grant obtained by the Plum Senior Center for its expansion to pay for engineering work on a 110-acre parcel where the borough could build the town center.

The senior center in April announced it was halting a planned $1.3 million expansion and renovation project at its Center-New Texas Road site so that it could direct its efforts to moving into the proposed town center. Borough officials have discussed making the center home to a town hall, library and senior center, as well as commercial and recreational development.

"The borough would outlay the cash and get reimbursed (from the grant)," Manager Michael Thomas said.

Senior center officials could not be reached for comment.

A steering committee is expected to present a plan for the town center to council by the end of the year, Manager Michael Thomas said. State Sen. Sean Logan said he wants concrete details before attempting to secure funding for the town center.

It doesn't have a price tag, but the borough expects to commit $15 million, Thomas said.

Council President Dave Vento said the engineering work will cover environmental studies, utility lines, excavation and other site preparation.

Vento said a initial environmental assessment of the property completed several years ago concluded it was "clean for future development."

"Not only do we want to have it environmentally safe, but we also want to make it environmentally cutting edge," Vento said.

He said the borough would repay the senior center the $300,000 if the project fizzles.

"I think anything we can do as a borough to get the senior center and the town center moving is a win-win situation for everyone," said Stanley J. Caraher, vice president of the senior center. "The senior citizens will have a much bigger facility (in Renton) than if we try to do it on our own."

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