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INDIANA COUNTY: Commissioners award contract for access road at airport

by on August 29, 2013 11:00 AM

Plans for more economic development at the Indiana County/Jimmy Stewart Airport moved ahead Wednesday as the county commissioners awarded a contract to Ligonier Construction Co. to build an access road to a proposed airpark.

The planned airpark will offer sites for businesses to build new and larger hangars at the airport.

Ligonier Construction submitted the low bid of $994,000 for the road-building project. The Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program will provide all the funding for the road construction.

“This is a significant part of the necessary business upgrades at the airport,” said commission chairman Rodney Ruddock.

Tom Robertson, airport manager, said the access road will start from the terminal building driveway and extend west roughly parallel to the runway. Construction work on the road may begin this fall, he said.

Plans for a housing project for homeless military veterans also advanced as the commissioners agreed to enter into a contract with Upstreet Architects Inc., of Indiana, for the homeless vets housing units to be built along Clinton Street in White Township.

Under the $55,000 contract, Upstreet Architects will provide the design, bidding and construction services for the project, which will include five one-bedroom units and one two-bedroom unit.

LuAnn Zak, deputy director of community development and housing in the Indiana County Office of Planning and Development, said the project may go out for bids within 60 days, and the housing units are expected to be completed and ready for use in 2014.

The commissioners also voted to allocate $196,000 from the county’s 2013 Community Development Block Grant program to help upgrade the Arcadia water treatment plant in Montgomery Township.

The commissioners will also apply for $375,000 of CDBG competitive funds for the project on behalf of Montgomery Township and the Indiana County Municipal Services Authority, which owns and operates the Arcadia water system.

During the public comment portion of Wednesday’s meeting, Banks Township resident Larry Spahr again called on the commissioners to correct what he described as unkempt conditions at a neighboring property.

Starting in 2007, federal HOME funds, funneled through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and the Indiana County Redevelopment Authority, were used in a housing rehabilitation project to replace a mobile home for a family living on the adjacent property.

Spahr said he has been complaining to county and DCED officials for five years about the condition of his neighbor’s property. He suggested commissioner Dave Frick should resign because, Spahr said, Frick did not return his phone call and because Frick described photos of the neighboring property as “vague.”

“The photos are not vague,” Spahr said Wednesday, claiming they show broken glass, scattered beer cans, uncut grass and a burned mattress on the property.

Spahr said his property’s value had been cut in half because of the condition of the neighboring property.

“It’s the county’s responsibility,” Spahr told the commissioners. “They must maintain it. In five years they’ve done nothing but take it downhill.”

Ruddock said the commissioners were aware Spahr had sent photos of his neighbor’s property to DCED.

“We know what the issues are. We feel the county is protected,” Ruddock said.

Following the meeting, Zak said the situation with the neighboring property has been investigated by county and DCED officials who ruled the county was in compliance with the housing rehabilitation grant program.

In addition, Zak said, the family living there is making their required payments on the newer mobile home and paying their taxes. And there are no township property maintenance ordinances there dictating how the owners have to keep their property.

“It’s been investigated. It’s not an issue,” Zak said.

In other action, the commissioners:

• Accepted the low bid of $27,500 (80 percent of which is reimbursable by the state) from Marc Services, of Windber, to replace the heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit on the roof of the Children and Youth Services building along North Fourth Street, Indiana.

• Proclaimed Sept. 9-15 as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Month in the county, noting that alcohol use during pregnancy is the leading cause of birth defects and that an estimated 40,000 newborns annually are affected by their mothers drinking during their pregnancies.

• Reminded county residents that the courthouse will be closed Monday in observance of Labor Day.

Randy Wells has been a reporter and staff writer at The Indiana Gazette since 1988. His regular assignments include coverage of the Indiana County commissioners, Indiana Borough council and the Marion Center Area School District. His email address is
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