Committees of the Tarentum Borough Council held meetings in the council chambers on February 13, 2005 at 6:30 PM. All members of the Council were present.
There was a question about how well the committee meetings were advertised. The issue has to do with a shift in stylle on the Council, and an attempt to save money on advertising meetings. At the previous Council meeting, tonight's date was stated as a tentative date being held for a meeting to deal with the skatepark, but statements had also been made that people would be told when the date was firm. Apparently, the borough notified the Valley News Dispatch, which included a notice of an "agenda meeting" in Sunday's paper on page C1. However, the listing of today's meetings in the Feb. 13 paper on page A3 did not include any reference to a meeting in Tarentum.
Council President Carl Magnetta invited Councilwoman Ginger Sopcak to conduct the meeting of the Library Committee first. It was reported that the state has cut the funding for the Even Start program, which focuses on family literacy. It is not yet clear exactly what the funding will be, but there will be a cut for this summertime program. The committee will meet again on March 13 to consider how to deal with this issue.
Council President Magnetta led the meeting of the Parks and Recreation Committee, which was intended to deal with the skateboard park project. Mr. Magnetta reported on a meeting with Allegheny County representatives on Friday, January 27, in which they discussed the possibility of changing the site of the proposed skateboard park. He explained that the alternate site on First Avenue is an underused ball field, the second one down from Brackenridge.
He reported on a number of items of correspondence. TREK Development, involved in the Tarentum Senior Housing development across First Avenue from the alternate site, in which they offered to donate services to develop drawings for the skatepark. Gibson Thomas, the borough's engineers, have written a letter to the Council of Governments explaining the proposal for the First Avenue site. The local Little Leage program also wrote to say that they had no need for the ball field. Apparently the borough engineers did not correspond as quickly with the Allegheny County officials as the borough had hoped, so at this time the borough is waiting to hear back from the county. Councilwoman Sopcak, under whose committee leadership the grant application had been submitted, voiced her concern that whatever happens with the change of location for the park should not be done in a way that risks Tarentum's losing the grant. Council President Magnetta stated that no actions were going to be taken until they heard back from the county.
There was a question about where most of the Tarentum skateboarders live. The question matters because pedestrian (or skateboard) travel between East and West Tarentum is far less than ideal. Mr. Magnetta was of the opinion that because most of the population of Tarentum is in the First and Second Wards, it was likely that most of the skateboarders would be from East Tarentum. Ms. Sopcak was of the opinion that most of the skateboarders who had been present at the last Council meeting were from West Tarentum. At tonight's meeting there was only one skateboarder present, and she was from West Tarentum. Unfortunately, no one has solid data as to how many skateboarders live on each side of the divide. In my opinion, the real long-term issue for Tarentum is finding a way to improve safe, non-vehicular access between the two sides of the borough.
Mr. Magnetta stated that he wanted to identify three skaters to work on developing the design for the skatepark. He asked Ms. Sopcak to contact Jeff Revilla of Blank Skate Supply to get telephone numbers of Tarentum skateboarders to the borough office.
The Parks and Recreation Committee will meet on March 13 to select three Tarentum residents who skateboard; the committee can then do some work before or after the Council meeting on March 20, and then meet again on March 27 to move the process along.
Following the committee meetings the Council went into executive session.