“We need to take a more proactive approach [to blighted properties]”
So began the message Reynoldsville Borough Council president TJ Sliwinski had for the council and those in attendance to the regular meeting on June 19.
The council president, who serves on county-wide committee looking at the issue, said it wasn’t just a problem in Reynoldsville.
“Blighted property truly is everywhere,” he said.
Sliwinski asked council to take swift action on a Quality of Life ordinance that would combine and update all the ordinances dealing with the issue and would give the borough code enforcement officer the power to issue tickets for violations without having to go to the magistrate.
Along those lines, Sliwinski said another part of the solution was to provide the code enforcement officer the hours and tools he needs to do the job right. Code Enforcement Officer Larry Kirkwood currently splits his time between code enforcement and the borough road crew.
Council was asked to look at all aspects of this more aggressive approach, including looking at the current contract with Advanced Disposal to make more dumpsters available to those who can’t afford them.
During the discussion, Councilman Ralph “Tucker” August asked about an overgrown property that was negatively affecting a nearby property that was for sale. After looking through the current ordinances, Solicitor Joe Ryan said if the grass exceeds six inches, the borough must warn the property owner to clean up the property within a “reasonable amount of time,” which he felt was 72 hours. If it isn’t taken care of, the borough has the right to mow it and place a lien on the property. Under the proposed Quality of Life Ordinance, that property owner would be ticketed.
To get the new ordinance taken care of quickly, council later recessed the meeting and will resume the discussion on June 27 at 6 p.m. The hope is to have the ordinance in place by July. A notice will be sent to all property owners alerting them to the new rules as soon as the ordinance is in place.
Additional Property Clean Up
At the May meeting, John Burkett of Jackson Street asked council do something about a property near his house that needed to be brought up to code.
The person who lives there, Colleen Small, attended the meeting also and explained the situation and the difficulty she is experiencing in the cleanup.
“We are trying,” she said.
A nearby dilapidated trailer is also a part of the situation, and Small agreed to allow Code Enforcement Officer Kirkwood to inspect it on June 25 to see if it should be condemned under current ordinances.
Industry and business expansions
Brad Lashinsky of the North Central Pennsylvania LaunchBox located at Penn State DuBois, and Rick Young of Sintergy, Incorporated, attended the meeting and asked for a variance of a subdivision ordinance for Sintergy, a powdered-metal plant located in the Reynoldsville Industrial Park.
The company plans to build a 25,000 square foot facility adjacent to its current building and add 15-20 new jobs.
The current facility will be coming off the Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) in January of 2020 and join the borough tax rolls. Plans are to apply for a KOZ exemption for the new building.
Council granted the variance by a unanimous vote.
Council also granted a variance to Jim Brown, owner of the Reynoldsville One Stop Convenience Store, who is getting ready to rebuild the store after a fire earlier this year. No word yet on when construction will begin.
At the May meeting, Andy Riss of Reynoldsville asked for a little more than two acres of the eight acres of property behind the municipal maintenance building. He proposed building a wood working shop there.
Favoring the request, council decided to get an appraisal. If that appraisal exceeded $1500, it would have to be bid.
The appraisal came back at $4600, but before they proceed, council members decided to get the land surveyed.
Red, white and Blueberry Festival requests
Sheri Price of the DuBois Area Jaycees attended the meeting an asked council to grant a variance at the borough park for a beer tent to be located there on July 13 during the Red, White and Blueberry Festival.
Last year, the tent was located on private property nearby, but those attending were unable to see the performances on the stage.
The council approved the request. It also approved the request to close Deitz Alley behind the fire station on July 13 pending approval by the Reynoldsville Fire Department.
The festival is scheduled for July 12, 13 and 14 in the borough park.
*Mayor Peach Caltagarone said the police department will be enforcing borough ordinances concerning fireworks before and after the Fourth of July. On the subject of fireworks, Police Chief Troy Bell said permission has been given for a private firework display in the borough on July 6.
*Mayor Caltagarone also asked council about what can be done to get new Christmas lights. The hope is to replace the old lights with 25 new LED lights. A discussion ensued about how to pay for the project, with those present favoring a fundraiser where business and individuals can purchase the lights. Caltagarone said he would have more information at the July meeting.
*Councilwoman Robin McMillan said she would like to see hometown hero banners of borough veterans placed on the light posts in the borough. The matter will be referred to the Reynoldsville American Legion to see what can be done.
*After some discussion, council voted to end the one-way traffic on Seventh Street from Main to Jackson Streets. Parking will be restricted to the west side of the street