By Kaylee Lindenmuth
FRACKVILLE - A group of just under 20 residents came out to Frackville borough council Wednesday night to speak out against a rumored low income housing development said to be planned at the lot of the former St. Joseph's Church at Frack and Centre Streets.
Paul Domalakes, a borough resident and solicitor for the Frackville Area Municipal Authority, noted that a request for technical information tipped him off to the potential development.
"FAMA got a call for what would be the technical requirements, connection fees, and everything for a three story, thirty-seven unit multiple family low-income housing development," said Domalakes to council.
According to Domalakes, the Diocese has an agreement of sale "with an unknown party that they're not allowed to reveal anything about."
"As a homeowner here in town, with that kind of thing as the ostensible plan, that should be something that the council is aware of, and aware that the people are not really fond of that," added Domalakes.
Domalakes noted that the request came three weeks prior, after the last FAMA meeting.
Frackville borough solicitor Mark Semanchik noted that, two weeks ago, he'd received a request from an engineer, who didn't identify their client, for his opinion regarding a street mapped out to split the St. Joseph's parcel. His opinion, he said, is that the mapped out street is a borough street, must be preserved for access purposes, and can't be built on.
Other residents in attendance noted their disapproval of the possible development, citing potential problems from traffic, to a decline in property values, to their inference that, if it's low-income housing, it wouldn't create tax revenue.
Borough council noted that the public comments were the first time they'd heard of the potential development.
"Nothing's been filed with the borough," said Semanchik. "We're not aware of anything at this point," noting that, beyond the street inquiry, "we're not aware of any agreements of sale, we're not aware of who the developers are."
The lot, owned by "Archbishop Dougherty" according to the Schuylkill County Parcel Locator, was where St. Joseph's Church and Rectory stood until their 2016 demolition.
Economic Development Task Force
Council member Helen Miernicki outlined the recent and planned activities of the Frackville Economic Development Task Force, specifically outlining the cleanup of Lehigh Avenue, in which members pulled weeds, mulched around 38 trees, and more. The borough also rented a street sweeper to clean Lehigh Avenue.
Miernicki noted that, in the fall, the task force will host a Fundraising Dance on September 22nd at the Elks, and on November 24th and 25th, the group will team up with the Frackville Business and Professional Association for a "Shop Smart Weekend," with local shopping on the 24th, and a Smile with Santa event on the 25th.
The next meeting will occur on July 2nd.
Chief Rick Bell asked residents with children to remind them of the helmet laws when out riding, as well as, if they're riding in the street, they must ride with the flow of traffic.
"First of all, I don't condone riding their bicycles in the street, however, if they do ride their bicycles in the street, they do have to go with the flow of traffic," said Bell. "For instance, if a roadway is one-way north, they need to ride their bicycles north so they're going with the flow of traffic."
Bell also noted that the streets department will be marking curbs at intersections yellow for no parking zones.
One resident asked if it was necessary to paint the curbs yellow, saying it would be "unsightly," which Bell noted it would be for enforcement purposes under state law, with the alternative being a large X across the street.
Mayor Kim Phillips noted that the Frackville fireworks will be on July 3rd, and the farmers market will open soon, being held each Thursday afternoon at Lehigh and Frack Streets.
Council member Stephen Tertel motioned to hire seven seasonal employees for the streets department, which council approved. They are;
Tertel also thanked the streets department for their work in filling potholes.
"We are still going to be filling potholes," said Tertel. "That's an ongoing thing."
The streets coordinator added that, in the past week, four workers had laid 29 tons of hot patch by hand filling potholes.
Council approved a request from the Girl Scouts to use the council chambers for meetings on June 20 and August 15.
Council also moved to resurface the tennis courts at Memorial Park.