Police station discussion dominates Reynoldsville Borough Council meeting

With more than thirty people in attendance, the Reynoldsville Borough Council held its regular monthly meeting on August 28 at the fire hall. The main topic of discussion, which brought out most of the people it seemed, was the proposed police station.

All members of council were present with council member Billie Cebulskie joining by phone.

At the last meeting, council decided to investigate options for the station. Those options included purchasing the former Community First Bank office building, remodeling the current municipal building, or researching other locations in town.

During the public comment session, Bob Vizza spoke first and voiced his opinion that buying a building would include a mortgage and other problems.

“I just can’t see buying another lot in town [and] taking it off the tax rolls,” he said.

Others spoke in turn, some suggesting the station decision be made after the next municipal election in November. Others talked about using money to increase the police protection to 24 hours.

One other resident, Mike Wolfe, said he felt the current set up with the police station on the second floor does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and he asked that a telephone be placed at the bottom of the stairs so the police can be contacted by someone who can’t make it up the stairs.

When John Burkett addressed council about the issue, he said, “Without a doubt, something has to be done about the police station.” He then referred to the drawings completed by KTH Architects earlier this year. He said with some modifications to the plans, the old ambulance building could be remodeled to meet the needs of the police department.

“When you have the same amount of space in that ambulance garage there now, there’s no reason you cannot remodel that and have a beautiful building right there with the garage that’s already in front of it,” he said.

Mayor Peach Caltagarone agreed, but the building will need work.

“It’s needed [to be] rewired since the ambulance station was there, but that’s been overlooked all these years.”

During the discussion, the 24-hour police protection was brought up again. Council President TJ Sliwinski pointed out to Mayor Caltagarone, who oversees the police department, that money for part time officers was budgeted and that it can be used at his discretion.

Sliwinski suggested the police committee meet more often so input can be provided to the council on police matters.

Once the initial discussion was completed, Sliwinski provided the costs of two options. The first, purchasing the old bank office building, would cost about $120,000.00, but there would be additional remodeling costs.

Option B, remodeling the current municipal building to move the police department downstairs and the borough offices upstairs. An elevator would be included to allow access to the second floor.

According to the borough engineers, PVE Sheffler, that construction budget would be in the range of $350,000 to $450,000. Adding other repairs, such as the building facade, would bump that up to $500,000 to $750,000.

While all agreed that at some point the municipal building will need to be repaired, the focus right now was on the police station.

The council then moved to the need for a professional grant writer to help the borough find the money it needs to do what it wants to do.

For his part, Police Chief Troy Bell explained the need for a different layout than the current one. He also said storage space is also an issue, especially for evidence.

Once the entire discussion was over, council decided not to pursue the bank building at this time. Council member Ralph “Tucker” August was tasked with finding out how much it would cost to remodel the old ambulance station and report back at the September meeting. Council also agreed to investigate obtaining a professional grant writer who can help the borough, either utilizing PVE Sheffler or the grant writer used by the Reynoldsville Fire Department.

Other actions

Council opened seven bids for the old borough grader. They approved the highest bid made by Brad Armagost at $5250.00.

Council member Cebulskie said the Comcast audit should be completed soon.

The borough continues to investigate purchasing new Christmas lights.

The American Legion Ladies Auxiliary is assisting in the American Hero banner project.

The next council meeting will be September 18.

 

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