Council meets virtually

Mansfield Borough Council met virtually on Wednesday, Feb. 10. Top row, from left, are Borough Manager Chris McGann, Secretary Cassie Cowles, Councilmember William Schlosser. Second row, from left, are Council President Robert Strohecker, and Councilmembers Karri Verno and Kelvin Morgan. Bottom row, from left, are solicitor Jeffrey Loomis, and Councilmembers Steve McCloskey and Adrianne McEvoy.

MANSFIELD — While PennDOT’s proposed Main Street project could enhance and improve the Mansfield borough, losing 19 street parking spaces isn’t ideal and could be detrimental to Main Street businesses, the borough council agreed during Wednesday’s meeting.

In his report on behalf of the finance committee, councilman Steve McCloskey said the majority of the finance committee meeting was spent on a response to PennDOT’s old Route 15 and Wellsboro Street project. As part of the project, PennDOT announced that 19 street parking spaces will be eliminated.

McCloskey said in conversations with community organizations, like the chamber and BOOM, all agreed that something needs to be done to alleviate the loss of those parking spaces. A letter is in the works, and once all parties have input, will be sent to PennDOT in response to its proposal.

“What we are going to state in that (letter), is that the community — not just the borough, but the community itself — doesn’t believe that we can be a viable, financial downtown area with a loss of those 19 parking spaces. It’s not that we object to their safety concerns, it’s not that we object to the improvement of the road structure, it’s not to any of those aspects. We can tolerate the inconvenience, but we feel that the lack of the parking will terminate our business opportunities,” McCloskey said.

He added they’re going to try to work with PennDOT to identify areas and ways to do that.

Borough Manager Chris McGann reported he met with PennDOT officials and representatives from Greenman-Pedersen Inc., PennDOT’s engineer on the project, to discuss coordinating water and sewer line replacements in conjunction with the project. The water and sewer infrastructure on Main Street is among the oldest parts of both systems and the PennDOT project represents a chance to replace the lines.

It is projected to cost $2.3 million to do that work, McGann said. There is an opportunity for PennDOT cost sharing; likely a 75%/25% split for any utilities that will be impacted, with the borough paying the lesser amount.

“In other words, any water/sewer lines that are five foot deep and that don’t have to be enlarged. If we have utilities that are deeper or any pipes need to be larger, we (the borough) are going to be on the hook for the full amount of the difference on that,” McGann said.

McGann said there are some smaller things the borough could be responsible for, including a storm sewer line, projected to be $100,000, and curb ramps in the $10,000 range.

He asked the council to consider if they are interested in allowing night work to shorten the project length. It is uncertain how much shorter the project would be if night work took place or if it would add to the borough’s bill, but McGann has asked PennDOT for an estimate.

Councilman Will Schlosser suggested surveying the residents who would be impacted the most by night work.

In a related matter, McCloskey again touched on a community enhancement fund. Money, not necessarily tax-based, will be allocated for a grant to be used for projects that enhance the community.

According to notes from the finance committee meeting, it is proposed that $20,000 be transferred from the Urban Development Action Grant fund to a new fund for small community enhancement projects. Council could act on a resolution ready in March.

After budgeting $300,000 for improvements, three projects have been identified on Prospect, Townview and St. James streets.

“Each of those projects is in a different section of town. All three of those projects are in desperate need of attention,” McCloskey said.

Townview has not been renovated since the road was built, he said, and Prospect Street has “horrific road surface” and drainage and flooding issues.

Cost projections are on target with the budget, McGann said, and are planned for this construction year.

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