Catasauqua Press

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Borough to give up land rights for new bridge

Wednesday, March 1, 2017 by paul cmil Special to The Press in Local News

PennDOT has offered the Borough of Catasauqua $20,200 for easement rights to borough property at the bridge replacement project on Race Street. The borough council is expected to vote on the agreement at the March 6 council meeting.

Robert Moore of Interstate Acquisitions Service made a presentation to the council Monday at a workshop session. Moore’s company acquires easements for PennDOT.

The bridge over Catasauqua Creek on Race Street, near the D&D Market, is designated for replacement under PennDOT’s Fast Track building program. Building the bridge will require an easement along borough property and some of the local businesses near the bridge.

“There won’t be any change to the borough property,” he said. “It will look the same. But, we need the easement for future maintenance,” he said.

The borough property is the fireman’s training field. The fire department decided to abandon the property and use more updated facilities for training.

PennDOT wants 3,000 square feet as a permanent easement and another 1,600 square feet for a construction easement.

Council members discussed the amount and unanimously agreed to accept the offer. According to borough Manager Eugene Goldfeder, the offer from PennDOT is twice what the borough paid in 1980 for the property, which sits in a flood plain.

Moore said a contractor for the project has not been designated.

The original PennDOT plan had the project starting in April and completed by October, but, for a myriad of reasons, Moore does not believe the project will start in April. He contemplated maybe an October start.

Also at the meeting, Ron Gawlick of The Pidcock Company presented the council with the final land development plan for the new municipal building. There were minor changes based on the final construction. The plan will be recorded.

“Based on our latest input, it looks like the substantial completion is now scheduled for July 7,” Goldfeder said.

The date is subject to change, depending on a host of different factors, he said.

Goldfeder also addressed a failing retaining wall on a Poplar Street property. At the Jan. 30 council meeting, a backyard neighbor on Faith Street had complained the deteriorating wall supporting a storage shed at 274 Poplar St. was unsafe and in eminent danger of collapsing onto his property. The complainant discussed the situation with his neighbor, but the neighbor stated he does not have the funds to correct the problem.

Since then, the borough has sent an engineer to the site, and it was determined to be a safety issue.

According to Goldfeder, the borough is faced with a dilemma. If the homeowner does not have funds to fix the problem, the borough could go in and build a wall or take a less expensive option and remove everything on the hillside and re-grade it. Both options would put a lien on the property to reimburse the borough in the future, when the property is eventually sold.

Rebuilding the wall is the costly approach and may make the property unmarketable. The borough would then need to take it over and might not recover its investment. Discussion will continue at a future council meeting.

In other action, Councilwoman Christine Weaver reported the committee meeting to discuss options for making Front Street a two-way street will meet March 21. The current plan is to convert the Front Street traffic flow June 15.

Weaver also announced there are vacancies on the borough planning and zoning committee. Weaver, who chairs the committee, is actively seeking new members. Interested residents should apply at borough hall.