City moves forward on bus service
Sewage treatment plant settlement is official
LOCK HAVEN — Just like the wheels on the bus, the city is rolling ahead. City council approved a memorandum of understanding Monday about how the proposed new bus service in town will be financed.
Also at Monday’s meeting, council heard more about a proposed new streetscape project and approved a settlement with contractors that had worked on the new sewage treatment plant.
The litigation centered on delays in the $32 million plant’s completion. The plant came on line Oct. 1, 2014.
Both the city and the contractors wanted to be reimbursed for costs they incurred because of delays. A mediation session was held but did not resolve the issues, according to City Manager Richard W. Marcinkevage. A settlement meeting was held in March 2016. The settlement was reached at the end of last month, he reported.
The city will give general contractor Layne Christensen Co. and electrical contractor HRI Inc. their final payments for the project. The balance due under the contracts totals $2,318,202.
The contractors, for their part, will reimburse the city $570,901 for costs incurred due to the delays. These include the city having to buy additional “nutrient credits” to offset the fact that the former treatment plant was not meeting state regulations. Other expenses were refinancing costs, and legal and inspector fees.
The settlement “makes the city whole,” as Marcinkevage said.
Once the city pays the contractors, it will be reimbursed through its low-interest loan from PennVest for the project. This last reimbursement will close the financial books on the treatment plant construction, the city manager said.
Council’s vote was unanimous to approve the bus service memorandum of understanding. (Councilman Jonathan Bravard continues to be absent from council meetings, due to health.)
Bus service was to begin this month, before Lock Haven University is back in session, Council Vice President Stephen L. Stevenson said. He did not have a firm starting date, but council’s timely action moves the project forward.
Clinton County government is taking the lead on bringing daily bus runs by River Valley Transit to the greater Lock Haven community, as well as bus runs that would connect Lock Haven to Jersey Shore and Williamsport. The county is guaranteeing that the local share will be paid. The other local funding partners are the city, the university, Clinton County Housing Authority, and the industry First Quality. The total the partners will share is a maximum of $45,000 per calendar year, with PennDOT providing the bulk of the money needed.
The bus service is to be offered as a pilot program, spanning three years. The city’s costs would be $26,250 over those years.
That amount is lower than originally thought, Stevenson said, and it could go lower still as River Valley Transit seeks more partners. The hospital, other municipalities, other employers can all sign on, he said.
After three years, and if bus service proves feasible here, PennDOT will pay 85 percent of the costs, according to the memorandum.
Councilman Douglas T. Byerly acknowledged Stevenson and Councilman Ted Forbes for representing the city in meetings about the proposed bus service.
“This would really bring Lock Haven in line with other third-class cities in the state,” Byerly said.
Charles Construction received the latest paving contract. The company had the lowest of three bids, at $523,245. The other bidders were HRI Inc. and Glenn O. Hawbaker.
The paving projects include:
r The .3 of a mile of the Glenn Road from North Fairview Street to University Drive, to tie in with the university’s project alongside Price Auditorium.
r Work in Sunset Pines including all of Terrace Drive, all of Hillcrest Drive, and all of Melody Lane.
r Prospect Street from Logan to South Jones Street.
r Second Avenue from Linden Street to Woods Avenue.
r Second Avenue from Bellefonte Avenue to Maple Street.
r Maple Street from Second Avenue to Bennage Avenue.
r All of Bennage Avenue.
r Third Avenue from Bellefonte Avenue to Maple Street.
r All of Woods Avenue that is within the city limits.
r Sections of seven alleys.
City Planner Leonora M. Hannagan also gave an update on applying for grants to improve the sidewalks on East Church Street from the five-way light to Jay Street. This streetscape project would include new sidewalks with a brick design, new curbing, plus new street trees and grates.
The lights would not be replaced on these blocks, she said, because PPL is replacing them this year. By not replacing these new lights, the city can reduce the cost of the project by 40 percent, she added.
Federal Community Development Block Grant funds could be used to design this streetscape project, she said. The city also could apply for a PennDOT Transportation Alternatives grant for $1 million (the maximum allowed) and for a $500,000 Keystone Communities Grant to serve as the local match.
Under the PennDOT grant, construction would have to start in 2020, and that should be feasible, she said.
Council gave the nod to this plan.
Mayor William E. Baney III suggested a similar project for the block of East Main Street that includes The Roxy movie theater, since the theater gets a good deal of foot traffic.
That block was not part of the original 20 blocks included in the city’s streetscape plan, written in 1999, Hannagan said. It also cannot be included in the same grant application as East Church Street because the two streets would not appear to naturally flow into each other.
In all, the city has given a new look to 15 blocks so far. Considering that PennDOT has just completed work along Jay Street, then these proposed four blocks of East Church Street would be the last to complete the plan, Hannagan said.
Councilman Richard L. Conklin suggested a project on The Roxy block for the future. A sidewalk upgrade could be appropriate there, the city manager said. A full-blown streetscape project might not be appropriate, however, because the block contains only a few businesses, he said.
The mayor also reported that lights are out on Bellefonte Avenue from North Jones to North Highland Street. It appears that a light pole is down.