WILKES-BARRE — Standing in front of a mobile pump installed after the flooding of September 2011, Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton announced a complete upgrade of the pump house intended to protect the city’s Brookside neighborhood.
Leighton had to endure some ribbing from long-time residents during the morning announcement
“You never keep any of your promises,” Andy Kotlarchik joked before the start of a press conference Leighton ultimately staged twice, first at the 10 a.m. start time, then again for TV crews that arrived late.
After Leighton announced the $275,000 project installing three new pumps that should pay for themselves in energy savings, Michael Chudoba asked if the old brick passageways the water is pumped through underground would receive new plastic liners — needed to prevent water from seeping through the brick and into basements.
Told that liners will be installed later, Chudoba quipped, “By that time I’ll be in the bone yard.
Leighton praised Kotlarchik, Chudoba and John Barnas as “the mayors of Brookside,” saying all three have been advocates of flood control.
“These three gentleman have been instrumental, not that we’ve ever neglected Brookside or any other section of Wilkes-Barre, in making sure we didn’t forget the residents here,” Leighton said, noting the 2011 flood was so high the city had to evacuate some residents by boat.
“Today is the fulfillment of a promise to the people of Brookside who have endured so much,” Leighton said.
The new pumps will save $15,000 in energy costs in the first year, he added, and will be replaced one at a time to make sure the system remains operational.
The work should be completed by the end of this month.
The money comes from a $6.38 million bond issued by the city in 2012 to fund citywide projects — including new street lights installed downtown — intended to provide enough energy savings to cover the cost of the bond over two decades.
The energy-savings project is contracted with Johnson Controls, which does not guarantee the savings.
The pump work is contracted to G.M. McCrossin, Inc.
After the event, all three “mayors of Brookside” praised Leighton for getting the work under way.
“If this system works right,” Chudoba said, “we should never get flooded.”