Flood buyout grants approved

January 9, 2013

SHICKSHINNY – Council took action Tuesday night that will pave the way for more buyouts and the eventual demolition of properties that sustained damage in the flood of 2011.

By a 5-0 vote, council approved grant agreements with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency in the amounts of $839,469 and $495,118 for the acquisition of properties in the hazard-mitigation areas of North and South Canal streets and North Susquehanna Avenue. James Brozena, executive director of the Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority, made a brief presentation on the grants, which he said are 75 percent funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and 25 percent by PEMA.

In response to a question by Councilman Kevin Morris, Brozena estimated that buyout letters will be mailed in February; demolition, he added, could start in the spring.

Council designated Brozena and Wendy Kramer, newly appointed secretary/treasurer, to serve as application agents and to process all documentation and payments.

Council, however, wasn't unanimous when it came to approving a change order for construction work under way at Crary Park. On a 3-2 vote, with Councilmen Mike Steeber and Barry Noss objecting, a motion was approved for fill work and the placement of a swale on the parking lot. The change order, submitted by the project engineer, Quad3 of Wilkes-Barre, outlined an additional expenditure of $5,670.

After a brief debate, Morris submitted a compromise proposal whereby payment would be strictly from a $300,000 grant obtained for the project. Morris' motion passed with the support of Councilman Jim Wido and Council President Rosalie Whitebread.

Besides funding the change order, council approved a payment of $19,757 to the primary contractor, Pickarski Inc. of Gouldsboro. Pickarski initiated work at the site in early December.

In other matters:

• Council appointed Clarence Lewis to a five-year term on the sewer authority. He succeeds Francene Tearpock-Martini.

• Attorney John Pike of Kingston was appointed as borough solicitor, succeeding Jeff Malak, who resigned in December.

• Mayor Beverly Moore was re-elected unanimously to serve another three-year term on the planning and mitigation commission.

• A motion was approved to purchase, for $1, the flood-damaged property at 20 Canal St. from the Luzerne County Repository program.

• Council discussed the need for an ordinance to support a proposed $300 fine for those parking their cars illegally in handicap zones.

• An officer of Shickshinny Forward announced that, through the efforts of Lewis, a $2,000 grant was obtained from the Luzerne Foundation.