The mood seemed to be business as usual during Tuesday’s Bradford City Council meeting, the first of the new year following the reorganizational meeting Jan 6.
Bradford City Mayor James McDonald began the meeting on a positive note as he continued the tradition of commending city employees for their work ethic in the previous year. McDonald commended the following employees for marking six months without using a sick day: Barry Anderson, Brad Swackhamer, Kolin Strawcutter, Mark Smith, Mike Scrivo, Justin Ostrander, Glen Newswanger Jr., Shayne Miller, Jason Lindemuth, Tracy Godding, Dustin Bishop, Ken Arble Jr., Sara Andrews and Jeff Andrews. He commended the following for not missing a single day of work in 2019: Valerie Figula, Elaina Lucco, Teri Cannon, Karen Hector, Sharon Taylor-Moonan, Mike Ward, Eric Taylor, Chris Spaich, Seth Shepherd, Tom Shay, Chris Salerno, Richard Obermeyer, Matt Mongillo, Nathan Mealy, Jeff Kloss, Kevin Huff, Donald Hayden, Jeff Hale, Matthew Gustin, Terry Fuqua, Chip Comilla, Mike Cleveland, Michael Campogiani and Brett Butler.
“I appreciate all their hard work. I thank them for their diligence in coming to work every day,” McDonald said. “It’s tough going into work when you don’t feel like it, but they did it.”
During the public comment portion of the meeting, McDonald noted that the requirement to stand at the podium to address council was not necessary.
“A way that I would like to do this, from here on out, is if you don’t want to come up to this podium, if you’re not too crazy about being in front of everybody, you can stand up at your seat and say your name and address for the record,” McDonald said. “If you’d like to come to the podium, you are more than welcome to.”
Bradford resident Dick McDowell, a lifelong resident and former president of the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, shared concerns that the city, facing a budget crunch, may cut funding to the property maintenance department.
He noted that the code enforcement system in the city in the last three to five years has been working, with recognition of the employees in that department currently. He said that this is in part thanks to electronic capabilities, which weren’t previously available. He lauded the “vast improvements made” and asked that this not be cut out of the budget.
“Don’t fall back. I know you’ll have to cut budgets, but don’t cut the property and facilities committee,” McDowell said.
Jim Evans, a former Bradford City councilman and resident of Bradford for 43 years, congratulated McDonald on his election to office and Councilman Dan Palmer on his re-election. He shared disappointment with the new Forman Street Bridge, because it only has a sidewalk on one side and has already caused instances of pedestrians walking in the road on one of the busiest streets in Bradford. Secondly, he said, is because the bridge is the northern entrance to the city and is a “McBridge.” He felt it was a lost opportunity, but “maybe it’s not too late.”
He suggested returning to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and requesting they improve the look of the bridge a bit, noting that a similar effort years ago when the bridge on Main Street was replaced, led to installation of stamped concrete and an improved look.
He also noted the proposal to replace the Elm Street bridge on Tuesday’s agenda, and he suggested discussions take place to make that bridge look better, as it is the southern entrance to the city and “we deserve better” than an ugly, concrete bridge.
Evans also voiced concerns about the fact that Bradford is not pedestrian-friendly. He discussed the pedestrian signs currently installed and the fact they do not tell the pedestrian to wait or walk. Evans volunteered to walk the city and show the areas of most concern to Mayor McDonald or any councilman that was interested.
Chip Comilla, public works and parks director, explained that the poles for the lights on Main Street had to be re-ordered, and those new poles, including new pedestrian lights, are slated to be installed in 2020.
Resident Barbara Laxon questioned the city’s reason for not recycling plastic and also noted that, in her three years living in the city, she has struggled with reliable pickup of her recyclables. She did acknowledge that some instances were weather-related, but she said that was not the case for all.
McDonald discussed the expense for recycling plastics, noting the city discontinued the program because of that expense and the fact that people did not participate.
Council called for public comment on Resolution 35537, which involved the transfer of a restaurant license issued for use in Mount Jewett to Tops Markets, LLC for use in Bradford. With no comments, the council voted on the resolution and it passed with unanimous approval.
Council also moved to authorize the execution of the reimbursement agreement with PennDOT for the Elm Street Bridge project. In the resolution, it is noted that the city plans to replace the Elm Street Bridge using LB183 funds, at an estimated cost of $3,991,000. The resolution allowed for the city to accept funds from the Local Bridge program and authorized the aforementioned reimbursement.
In other business, council voted to issue a Certificate of Appropriateness to Todd Hennard, owner of 57 Main St., for the installation of new signs for JSS Vape Shop; voted to approve the 2020 annual allocation from the General Fund to the SPCA in the amount of $4,800, and voted to accept a proposal from E&M Engineers and Surveyors, P.C. to prepare for preliminary cost estimates and technical information needed for the preparation of grants for improvements to Callahan Park. The proposal is for the company to provide engineering services in an amount not to exceed $7,500. The council also approved a motion to authorize the Office of Economic and Community Development to advertise for bid contracted services for the 2020 Streetscape Improvement Project that includes: Main Street paving from Mechanic Street to Festival Way, Congress Street and Pine Street Streetscape Improvements and the Second Ward Neighborhood Streetscape Improvement project that includes Jefferson Street from Leland Avenue to Thompson Avenue and Thompson Avenue from Congress Street to Jefferson Street.
The next council meeting will be at 7 p.m. Jan. 28.