Indiana, PA - Indiana County

GREEN TOWNSHIP: Board decides to sell center

by CHAUNCEY ROSS chauncey@indianagazette.net on April 10, 2013 10:50 AM

COMMODORE — It has been the venue for wrestling matches, birthday and anniversary parties, benefit dinners and the monthly ICCAP food distribution.

Within the next couple of months, the Green Township Community Center will be the site for an auction — the sale of its own furnishings — and then the deteriorating building itself will be sold off to end its drain on township finances.

The Green Township board of supervisors Tuesday voted to take sealed bids on the 90-year-old center and to hire an auctioneer to sell the contents.

Some among the standing-room-only audience attending the supervisors’ monthly meeting questioned whether kitchen appliances might actually belong to the people who provided them when the building was managed by the township recreation board. But township officials said that when the board’s assets were turned over to the township, no documents reflected any kind of shareholder ownership in the property.

“It costs $8,000 a year to keep it going,” supervisor Chairman James Crawford said. “It was built in 1923 as a company store, we’ve had Head Start and day care here, and ICCAP uses it. … But that’s not keeping us above water.”

Township Secretary Jennifer Jennings said the annual utility costs and other expenses run as much as $10,000, but the facility generates only $1,000 to $2,000 a year in revenue.

Crawford said the facility had been sustained in part during the 1990s with grant money from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, but that since the community center’s value has depreciated, DCNR will require the township to spend $17,820 from the sale of the building on another recreation facility such as a baseball field.

Jim Smith, the owner of Smith Contracting, told the supervisors that the community center “is a sound building, but the roof is shot. The shingles are shot and the roof planks are rotted out underneath. You’ll have to put sheeting board under it now.”

The building’s state of disrepair has made it difficult to heat, officials said. The annual heating bills have run $5,000 to $6,000, according to Jennings.

In other business, the supervisors:

Opened sealed bids to purchase a 1988 model lawn tractor with a 60-inch deck and 20-hp engine, and accepted the high bid of $757 offered by Willis Houck.

Opened bids to provide road maintenance materials, vehicle fuel and heating oil, and accepted low bids from Jefferson Paving, Suit-Kote and Satterlee & Sons.

Voted to advertise a job opening for a part-time, temporary road worker to serve while another township employee is on medical leave.

Designated the supervisors, the township auditors and two staff members to attend the spring convention of the Indiana County Association of Township Officials on May 3 at the Rustic Lodge in White Township.

Fielded residents’ complaints about road conditions and requests for improvements to municipal roads near their homes. One suggested that the township should recover water discharged from hydrant-flushing maintenance and use it to allay dusty conditions on some roads.

In a public comment session lasting almost 25 minutes, Smith also asked to know who “bashed” him in a lengthy, unsigned letter that had been circulated among residents. No one claimed responsibility.

Smith defended the quality of some work he had performed and his follow-up work, under warranties, on behalf of the township. He didn’t mention the specific accusations contained in the letter.

“I’ve been in this area all my life, a lot of you people know me. I’ve got a reputation and I don’t appreciate it being bashed,” Smith said. “I have never shorted anybody or done any faulty work, and this is very ignorant.”

Supervisor Kenneth Ferringer, however, criticized Smith’s work to erect a sign at the municipal building, a project that Smith was given because the cost was below the threshold for taking bids.

“That’s the only job that wasn’t bid on, and it wasn’t my decision,” Smith told Ferringer in defense of his work.

“I realize that,” Ferringer said. “It should not have been done; it was too much money.”

The sign project cost $4,800, he said.

“You wouldn’t have got my approval on it. It shouldn’t have been done for decoration,” Ferringer said.

“It wasn’t my idea. So why bash me?” Smith said.

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