By Kaylee Lindenmuth
SHENANDOAH - A pair of fire damaged downtown properties will soon be demolished, according to Shenandoah Borough Council.
Council President Leo Pietkiewicz noted a project to demolish 13-15 North Main Street was sent out for bids a second time, with bids coming in $17,000 less than in 2018, he said.
"Schuylkill County will award the bid to AMG Contracting at its March 20, 2019 meeting, thereby eliminating a significant hazard," said Pietkiewicz.
The properties are the remaining half of a set damaged by fire in 2016. The first half, 9-11 North Main -- the former Air Shoes building -- was demolished in early 2018 through the county demolition program.
In June of 2017, the condition of the buildings prompted the closure of the sidewalk after portions of the facade fell to the sidewalk.
"It's a piece of property that has to come down, because it's on the main drag and it's falling down," said Pietkiewicz. "It's a hazard waiting to happen.
Coal and Walnut Update
In other business, the council moved to solicit bids for the repair of a collapsed drainage culvert at West Coal and Walnut Street in the "Flats" section of the borough, which has had the road closed since around February 4.
"The borough will supply the materials needed to repair the culvert, and we would like to have the bids submitted by 12-noon on March 20," said Pietkiewicz.
Council member Gordon Slater requested an amendment to the motion to include repairs to a hole near Abrachinsky's Hardware Store on West Coal Street near downtown.
Borough direction questioned
In the public comment portion of Monday evening's meeting, a borough resident questioned the direction of the borough and the council's intentions in pursuing one.
"What intention does this council have, and what direction are you going to take the borough," asked Donna Gawrylik, Shenandoah.
"Our direction is what we've been doing since I've been on, trying to better the community by fighting blight, asking for the public's assistance in helping us curb residents who do not pay taxes, water, sewage, or garbage, and abandon their houses, by alerting us, because we're not there on the street everywhere," said Pietkiewicz. "We're looking to improve the streets, which I know is a major headache for everybody, myself included, with potholes."
"We're looking to keep fees at reasonable rates, but also understanding that there are times increases have to be incurred, not only by the borough, but also passed down to the residents it serves, because, as fees go up, the borough cannot absorb it on the limited tax base and delinquent tax base that we have," added Pietkiewicz. "If it is deemed necessary, we try to hold any increase in fees or taxes to the very bare minimum."
"We're always looking to save, we're not looking to spend. We're on a very tight fiscal budget, that we don't have the extra money to spend," Pietkiewicz continued. "I've got to figure out what I've got to do with a hole on Coal Street that we never expected to open up because of a 1930 project. It's not as simple as coming up here, saying 'I want to do this,' and we'll have it done tomorrow."
Gawrylik then asked Pietkiewicz what had changed in the borough in his 19 years on council.
"Within 19 years, there has not been a change in this community, other than it getting worse," said Gawrylik.
"Tell me what hasn't changed," said Pietkiewicz. "I feel, in the 19 years, I have served the constituents of this borough to the best of my ability, if you're questioning my integrity, which I feel you are."
Slater added that one recent initiative of the borough is to improve cooperation between borough departments.
"We're going to try to get all these departments to work together," said Slater. "We're going to work on getting the water department to work with the borough workers to get some of these things fixed."
"The year that I've been on, I didn't see a lot of that happening. There always trying to pass the buck," added Slater. "That's one of our objectives this year, is to get everybody working together to get a lot of this stuff done."
In other business, borough council
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