Indiana Borough building

Past, present and future events involving Indiana Borough Council’s Community Development Committee occupied much of Tuesday’s council meeting.

Included was the one action on the agenda.

“This is to replace an aging vehicle in the code department’s fleet,” Council Community Development Committee Chairman Ben Ford said of a motion authorizing the lease or purchase for $20,410 of a 2021 Ford EcoSport 4x4 Sport Utility S from Tri-Star Ford.

The purchase was conducted through the Pennsylvania Department of General Services COSTARS program.

Ford said the Indiana Planning Commission still is working on a comprehensive plan for the borough, and said the commission is driving the planning for a Historic Architectural Review Board.

Councilwoman Poom Sunhachawi-Taylor said the first meeting of HARB is tentatively set for June 5 at 5:30 p.m. at the borough building.

Ford also recapped two recent borough events, one a community-led volunteer event on April 10, organized by local resident James Rickard, where litter and debris was cleaned up around the community.

Ford said it was a nice event and “really well attended.”

It was registered with Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful and, thanks to efforts by borough Manager C. Michael Foote, two roll-off containers were provided by Waste Management.

Council Vice President Gerald Smith also called attention to the coordination with students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, which involved Councilwoman Betsy Sarneso.

Sarneso is assistant director of IUP’s Center for Multicultural Student Leadership for Fraternity/Sorority Life and Student Engagement.

“There were a lot of people there, more than I think there would have been with just the 12 of us (on council) and our friends,” Smith said.

Councilwoman Sara Stewart wondered if there could be more such events, “possibly with more borough involvement and sponsorship.”

Foote said there has been talk of making this an annual event. He also said the borough’s contract with Waste Management allows for two events where the company can bring out the roll-out containers.

Also recently was the first Third Thursday in IRMC Park downtown.

“The weather was not stellar but it was a nice event,” Ford said. “There was a pretty good turnout. Hopefully it will build in the coming months.”

Third Thursdays, a monthly effort involving Downtown Indiana Inc. as well as the borough and the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce, will have a “Garden Party” as its theme the next time around on May 20.

Also Tuesday, a question was raised by Faye Bradwick, who had just bought a property at 554-556 Philadelphia St., consisting of downstairs retail space — which she plans to develop into a pan-Asian takeout place with one of her Burmese daughters — and an upstairs apartment.

She wondered if there was a cutoff time before the borough says it needs to collect back taxes on a property — as this “one tiny little property” had $4,531 due to the borough.

“I think this is terrible,” Bradwick told council.

Bradwick shared a camera on the conference call with her husband, Council Public Safety Committee Chairman Donald Lancaster, who said the diversity inclusion training partnership Indiana Borough Police Department has with IUP cultural anthropologist Dr. Abigail Adams has been finalized for this calendar year.

Until all IBPD staff have been vaccinated, “there will be no ride-alongs right now,” Lancaster said.

However, there will be 10 scheduled meetings between Adams and Police Chief Justin Schawl, and two department-wide meetings, that could be done in person or by conference call, again depending on vaccinations.

Also Tuesday, Foote said parking coordinator Hank Kukula is working with Indiana Area School District to provide parking for teachers who had to move to other buildings after the recent Eisenhower Elementary School fire.