Monday, February 20, 2006

Tarentum Borough Council debates recreation issues

Tarentum Borough Council, Feb. 20, 2006The Tarentum Borough Council held a 45-minute open meeting on February 20, 2006. Two issues related to recreation became issues on which there was disagreement. After taking a number of other actions, the Council went into executive session. What follows is a report of the significant events in the public part of the meeting.

At the time of Citizen Comments, one resident raised a concern about too many people parking too close to the corner of Grantham and West 9th. Councilman Gutonski stated that there was a similar problem at the corner of Grantham and West 8th, and that when the weather improved the borough would paint yellow lines on the curbs of those corners to resolve the problem.

At the time of the Mayor's report, Mayor Wolfe restated his desire that the skate park should not be built in Tarentum. Council President Magnetta explained the status of the skateboard park project: the borough has not yet heard from the county whether the project can be moved to the alternate location near Dreshar Stadium, and the borough has learned that the CDBG grant has been cut to $104,032. President Magnetta recognized the presence of Jim Burn, a member of the Allegheny County Council. As the mayor of Millvale, Burn had included a skatepark as part of major riverfront redevelopment. He said that at the time they began the project they had some of the same fears that Mayor Wolfe had expressed, but that in the four years that Millvale has had the skatepark, the problems have not manifested.

The Council appointed Councilwoman Mary Newcomer as a delegate to the Allegheny County Council of Boroughs, and Joe Davidek as an alternate to the same council.

The Council voted to "pay Muir Construction [sic] per court order for Corbet St project in the amount of $33,943.31." It appears that the court order was rendered in a case titled "Murrer Construction, Inc. v. Borough of Tarentum". The case involved payments to a contractor that were withheld, as Judge Judith Friedman said, "for no valid reason." (Memorandum in support of order, Dec 23, 2005. Page 6f.) The payment with penalties and interest amounted to $15,214.56. The plaintiff's reasonable counsel fees amounted to $18,728.75.

The Council approved the appointment of Pete Varos to the Civil Service Commission. No answer was given to Councilwoman Sopcak's question why there were no interviews of the candidates who had expressed interest in the position.

After some debate the Council voted to give Dynamite Daycare permission to have a petting zoo and pony rides at their graduation ceremony regularly held in Riverview Park. The Council voted to approve the lease with the Highlands Little Leage for the 2006 baseball and softball season. The Council also approved the Highland Hose to use Riverview Park for the Tarentum Festival June 4-11, 2006.

There was some confusion at the point in the report of the Parks and Recreation Committee when Council President Magnetta asked the council to appoint a list of ten volunteers as a recreation commission. When Councilwoman Sopcak asked whether this group was intended to be the same as the Borough's Recreation Board, she received an affirmative response. She pointed out that under the borough's code in chapter 61, the Recreation Board was to consist of nine members who were elected to five year terms (after the initial board was elected to staggered terms from one to five years). The Borough's solicitor was of the opinion that the existing appointments could be terminated without cause, but will need to research the matter. The Council took no action at this meeting to set aside the existing Recreation Board. Council President Magnetta had expressed his intention at an earlier meeting this year to form a group of volunteers to help with recreation programs for the borough; it was unfortunate that no one had realized until this meeting that the group he wanted to form was to have the same purpose as an already existing group composed of people elected with specific terms.

When the Council went into executive session, the purpose was to hire a labor attorney to complete current negotiations with IBEW, and to hire a labor attorney for all future labor contracts.

Although there were some difficult points in this short meeting at which the discussion could have become rancorous, the council members remained civil throughout.

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