DURYEA — Borough council this week voted to join a federally mandated project to reduce the amount of sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus flowing into the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay.
Duryea became the 34th Luzerne County municipality to officially become part of the effort.
Borough Manager Carolyn Santee said the project, being led locally by the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority, was started to avoid further pollution of the Chesapeake.
“Fifteen years ago, they said all of us up north are polluting the Chesapeake Bay; the pollution is snowballing as it goes downhill,” Santee said.
Most Luzerne County municipalities are in watersheds that drain into the Susquehanna, which flows over 400 miles from its origin near Cooperstown, New York, and empties into the northern part of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.
In addition to separating stormwater lines from the sewage system, Duryea will also boost efforts to keep its streets clean.
“If we don’t street-sweep, all of that stuff goes into the storm drain if we have a heavy rain and travels down,” Santee said.
Santee said the project will cost “millions,” with 36 Luzerne County municipalities serviced by the sanitary authority tackling costs together.
The authority has been pitching a regional approach to meet the unfunded mandate, arguing it would be far less expensive that way.
Every Duryea council member voted to approve the move except Al Akulonis Jr.
Councilman Michael McGlynn was absent.
The project expense would be covered by a fee estimated to range from $3 to $4.50 per property per month. Nonprofits and other entities that are exempt from real estate taxes would also have to pay the fee.
Another fee of up to $1 monthly may be proposed to help fund pollution-reduction projects that municipalities want to complete within their borders.
Honoring late NBAer
In other business this week:
• Duryea resident Anthony Demark was recognized as the winner of the Duryea Police Department and Neighborhood Crime Watch Scholarship.
“I grew up with all these people watching me, taking care of me,” Demark said. “It means that much more coming from my hometown.”
Demark plans to attend Lackawanna College Police Academy in Scranton after he travels to South Korea in late July to represent the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps.
• Council member Jimmy Balchune suggested the basketball courts at Duryea Community Park on Washington Street be named after late NBA player and Duryea native Gene Guarilia. The board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
“Hopefully, it’ll be inspirational that somebody from a small town like this grew up to play professional basketball for one of the greatest teams that ever played the game,” Balchune said.
Guarilia won four NBA championships with the Celtics in the early 1960s.
He died at his home in Duryea last fall at age 79.
• Council voted to allow Solicitor Sam Falcone to create an ordinance addressing the borough’s sidewalks.
“It’s going to set some standards for the maintenance, repair and replacement of sidewalks just to kind of make things safer for our residences as they try to traverse the borough,” Falcone said. “There’s really nothing in place right now for Duryea that requires property owners to maintain, repair and replace sidewalks. That’s where we’re headed.”