Historic grant could help Centre courthouse



BELLEFONTE — Centre County is hoping for a $100,000 grant to fix retaining walls at the courthouse.

The walls are in critical condition due to age and weather, according to Sue Hannegan, county assistant director of planning and community development.

The county commissioners have authorized the planning department to go for a Keystone Historic Preservation Construction grant to rehabilitate the deteriorating concrete-parged retaining walls that surround the left and right sides of the courthouse. The entire project is estimated to cost $207,200, and the difference between the grant and the total cost is expected to come from county match dollars that are factored into the capital projects budget.

The grant, which is administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, requires that the project be completed by October 2019. According to Hannegan, construction would begin on the one wall in 2018 and on the other wall the following year.

The walls, whose foundations are more than 150 years old, were originally made of stone. It is believed the concrete parging was added in the 1960s, Hannegan said. The plan is to restore the concrete parging to the condition it appeared in when it was new.

“This is the only element actually on the exterior of the courthouse that has not been touched by rehabilitation since the commissioners started that process in the 1990s,” she said.

Last year, the county received a grant from the state for the maintenance of both the Soldiers and Sailors War Memorial and the base of the late Governor Andrew Curtin statue. Both are in front of the courthouse. Hannegan said the former grant request included rehabilitation of the retaining walls, but due to the limited availability of state funding, the county was asked to submit another grant request this year for the walls.

“I think that the integrity of those walls is pretty key to the integrity of the building, so we need to get it taken care of and make sure that it doesn’t degrade any further,” said Commissioner Steve Dershem.

In other business, the commissioners:

r Proclaimed the week of March 5 through 11 as “Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week” in the county.

r Approved a letter of support for the Bellefonte Art Museum to apply for a Keystone Historic Preservation Construction grant. The funding would be used to complete construction projects on the museum’s two exterior porches and restore the main porch to a four-season room as it had been when originally built.

r Approved the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Office of Water Management grant agreement for funds that will be used to repair flood-damaged sections of streams in the county. DEP has granted the county funds not to exceed $60,000, for the period of Feb. 14, 2017 through June 30, 2018.

r Approved the renewal of a contract with WIT, Inc. for annual maintenance on QlikView Software. The total of the contract is $7,688.07 for April 1, 2017 through March 31, 2018.

r Approved the 2016 Penn State amended Schedule A in-lieu of taxes agreement, which relates to commercially-branded franchises and commercially-licensed stores and ties into the original contract that ends in 2025.

r Renewed a contract between the county and Community Help Centre to continue providing information and referral services through the Community Help Line, which is open 24/7 to all county residents. The total of the contract is $70,000, which is entirely state-funded, for this calendar year.

r Executed a memorandum of understanding for the final land development and subdivision plan for a future Dunkin’ Donuts at Eagle Point, off Benner Pike. The plan allows for a two-lot subdivision for existing meadow and stormwater facilities and development of a 2,279 square-foot Dunkin Donuts, in addition to corresponding infrastructure that will service the proposed land development activity.

The commissioners also announced an open house for the renovated Temple Court Building in Bellefonte on March 17 from 10:30 a.m. to noon, with an opening ceremony at 10:30 a.m.

In addition, the March 28 meeting of the Board of Commissioners has been cancelled due to the board attending the upcoming County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania conference in Harrisburg.