Planning and zoning issues were on the 2015 agenda in Dorrance Township while Nuangola Borough continued to struggle with the long embattled sewer project.
Nuangola residents opened 2015 with notice that the long embattled sewer project would produce an increase in monthly costs from $67 to $78 –a 16% increase.
“That was a very Merry Christmas to Nuangola residents,” announced former long-term secretary-treasurer Carolyn Lauer. By May, Lauer had won a write-in vote placing her name on the ballot in the Fall; and by year-end she was Councilor-elect.
The monthly sewer treatment increase was attributed to delinquencies –at one point over 60 of the 400+ properties –each essential to the calculations used to repay the $9 million costs.
Providing the majority of the sewer news was councilor Michael Johnson who also serves as liaison to the Nuangola Borough Sewer Authority, still owner of record of the sewer lines which transmit the waste to the Mountaintop Joint Sanitary Authority.
Providing the monthly breakdown of the borough’s struggle to repair the damages to roads left after sewer construction was completed was left to Vice President Joseph Tucker.
In a mid-January meeting, Johnson responded to President John Kochan’s anticipation that the project would be “winding down shortly,” Johnson said, “Well, yes but the winding down is going to be a drawn out process because of the legal requirement and the execution process. It’s going to take at least all of this year to collect all of these fees,” he said, “to follow all of the rule of law relative to execution of foreclosure.”
The following month Councilmember Mark Gandzyk cautioned Johnson that foreclosures could flash back in the small community. He said, “I do understand. The majority paid and hooked up. It’s not fair to them that a few didn’t hook up and they did. But to the media, you have government beating on the little guy.”
“We’re not jumping into anything with our eyes closed,” Johnson retorted. “This goes back probably 10 years of people who want it and people who don’t want it.” Johnson said that financial concerns were considered and resident were encouraged to come forward if cost was the issue.
Gandzyk persist, “All I can say is that the perception is not going to be good.”
Legal measures were discussed and in an update in March, Johnson advised that leaders of MAJSA wanted Nuangola’s, “problems cleared up.”
Adding to the friction was the monthly, deteriorating status report offered by Vice President and Roadmaster Joseph Tucker. In March he advised that the winter harsh winter weather was merciless on borough roads. “I lost count at 44 of the times we called out the plow.” He particularly cited the hardest damaged borough roads -areas where sewer repairs were conducted late in 2014.
On the road conditions noted as the snow melted, Tucker found a slight, bright spot in that the damaged suffered in locations repaired by sewer contractors, “At least we do have a maintenance bond on the roads repaired by the sewer contractor.”
While sewer road and legal entanglements impacted the borough –it was bugged, literally -with virtual defoliation by a gypsy moth invasion by mid-year.
Council pledged to assist residents with preventative measures for 2016. By December Secretary/Treasurer Sabine Thomas advised that she had researched the costs of hiring a private sprayer for treatment next year. Council agreed to fill in some details on the appropriate chemical to safely utilize around the borough’s name-sake lake.
While council cancelled the August meeting without notice, Vice President Tucker chaired June; July and the September session. Throughout the period he reported on road repair efforts specifically those conducted on Van Avenue, Willow Grove and North End Road.
By December, thanks to milder weather, Tucker was still scheduling patching efforts primarily in areas where sewer construction had left the worst damage.
An Office of Community Development grant was used to replace the crumbling handicapped accessible ramp. Ed Snukis Contracting of St. Clair was low bidder on the design calling for a switch back ramp and separate stairway for access to the municipal building. The base bid of $83,500 was accepted in June. Construction was completed in time for the December session.
By year’s end, council members were approving a grant application for Local Share Gaming funds benefiting the borough and its non-profit neighbors.
Vice President Joseph Tucker
led the effort to seek Local Share Gaming Grant funds. At the December meeting he proffered a financial outline for community needs, specifically funds to purchase an upgraded dump truck, spreader and plow for the borough, and also an insulated three-bay pole barn garage.
In addition, the application sought assistance on behalf of the Lake Association, to fund essential repairs rehabilitate the 100+ year old Pavilion, an historic structure with its foundation having been undermined by storm-water run-off from Raeder Avenue.