WILKES-BARRE — All the heavy lifting was done at it’s earlier work session, and City Council on Thursday night breezed through the agenda that covered downtown development, demolition and an attempt to nudge the Congress to act on pending banking legislation.
By a 5-0 vote council agreed: to hire Williams Kinsman Lewis Architecture of Wilkes-Barre at a cost of $68,500 for architectural and engineering services on the vacant First National Bank building on Public Square; to hire low-bidder Stell Enterprises of Plains Township at a cost of $9,500 to tear down a condemned house at 282 N. Pennsylvania Ave; to support an effort by the state General Assembly urging Congress to reinstate the separation of commercial and investment banking functions that were in effect under the Glass-Steagall Act that was repealed in 1999; to join the nationwide campaign “Drive4Pledges” on Sept. 19 to discourage texting while driving.
Council further approved a number of ordinances including, reducing the speed limit on a section of Madison Street to 25 mph, issuing parking permits to non-resident owners of vacant properties and amending the rules and regulations for hiring and promotions in the police department.
Council Chairman Bill Barrett complimented Mayor Tom Leighton on the latest phase of the Streetscape project that involves the installation of new curbs and concrete sidewalks around Public Square at a cost of $1.2 million. But Barrett asked if anything can be done next year with the fountain at the center of the square.
Leighton said the cost to repair the fountain would be in excess of $300,000 and the city does not have the money for the work.
“I’m as anxious as you to find money to do it,” the mayor said.
However, he was hesitant to support Barrett’s suggestion that the city apply for a grant from the state to use gambling revenues for the repairs.
The city received $1.3 million in gambling funds for the First National Bank Building and will use some of the money to pay the architectural firm to determine the cost of repairing and stabilizing the building’s roof and masonry so that it can be developed.