SOUTH BETHLEHEM – South Bethlehem Borough Council discussed an unexpected wrinkle in the bidding process for an upcoming street revitalization project during its regular monthly meeting on Monday. Council members also considered the ways and means of dealing with ongoing problems in one section of town.
Borough engineer Bob Grigas of Senate Engineering offered the first report.
“The Hamilton Street Phase II is in a rebidding process,” he said. “One of the top three bidders, Northrock, was not on the official list. As a result, the Armstrong County solicitor advised restarting the bidding process.”
Grigas said that Northrock obtained its bidding paperwork apparently through a third-party clearinghouse instead of through the county, documentation that did not meet county guidelines. He noted that Northrock was a late bidder on the project and may have been in a rush to submit its proposal, thus turning to the third-party source. He said that this was likely an administrative error because the company has good past references.
The delay should be short, adding another week or so to the bidding process.
Grigas said that Ron Gillette Inc., Natrona Heights, will start on the Hamilton Street Phase II repaving project on Aug. 8.
Dawn Davis, borough secretary, reported that, as part of a 2015 agreement between Armstrong County and South Bethlehem, an adjustment in Community Development Block Grant funds will garner some much-needed supplemental cash for the town. The extra money will be used to pay for additional sidewalks on Hamilton Street.
During the public comments segment, a resident who attended July’s meeting asked what was being done to address the need for an ordinance enforcement officer within the borough. While there are a few blighted properties in town, one in particular is keeping its neighbors awake, literally.
Reports of vehicle lights shining into homes in the early morning hours have resulted in stepped-up harrassment of residents. Noise from vehicles is also part of the problem and has been disturbing people on a hill in Porter Township across Red Bank Creek, the South Bethlehem resident said.
Council member Allen Dawson said that the glaring nighttime lights sounded like more of a law enforcement issue rather than an ordinance violation. Mayor Randall Stahlman suggested calling 911. The resident replied that he cannot call the Southern Clarion County Police to report the issue because of a previous harrassment suit filed against him a couple years ago.
During discussion, it was revealed that a few South Bethlehem residents had spoken with police chief Scott Ryan who expressed an unwillingness to do anything about the situation. Ryan said that he has written more than 40 vehicle-code violations against the person creating the problem but that there was nothing else that he could do.
Stahlman suggested hiring a part-time SCCPD officer looking to earn some extra income as the borough’s enforcement officer. Davis said that a 2009 letter from the police department stated that it would serve in this function but never did, citing manpower shortages.
Davis also said that the first step should be drafting and sending a letter to the offending homeowner, outlining the ordinance violations and their consequences.
Failure to comply with ordinances against public nuisances within 30 days would result in a fine ranging from $100 to $300. Continuing to ignore the citation would result in an additional $100 per day fine until the situation was corrected. Once the 30-day period was passed, the matter would be turned over to the legal system for resolution.
• The borough council will hold a special meeting on Aug. 15 to finalize bids on portions of the Hamilton Street Phase II reconstruction project.
• Allen Dawson said that he will contact the owner of the Pacific Pride property along West Broad Street about addressing the borough’s weed and grass ordinance. Nearby residents report that a narrow segment of its property is not being maintained and that Japanese knotweed is beginning to encroach on their lawans.
• Dawson also said that a Redbank Valley Municipal Authority sewer line connection within the borough needs to be repaired at the town’s expense. Emergency funding from a PennDOT contingency fund is being sought to cover the cost.
• The council voted to hold next month’s meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 4, instead of the first Monday of the month, which is Labor Day.
• There was additional discussion about permanently moving the meetings to the first Tuesday of the month again, its original time for several decades. It was moved to the first Monday at the request of a councilman a few years ago because of his personal schedule conflict.