By Sam Bigham
Being short by about $1.5 million for the completion of the $7.44 million Broadhead Sewer Separation Project has officials in Crafton looking for cost-friendly alternatives to fill the gap.
One of these proposals in particular replaces some brick paver streets with asphalt and has residents questioning the choice to spend less upfront and more over the long term.
Under the new project plan, brick paver streets Parke and Warren will be fully paved over at the completion of the project. The curve of N. Emily Street, the intersection of N. Linwood and Crennel avenues and the eastern half of Belvidere Street will have the current brick pavers replaced with asphalt. Bricks will be restored for the rest of N. Emily Street and Crennel Avenue.
Other cost-cutting measures include fewer sidewalk and curb improvements.
This new plan reduces costs by $964,400 leaving a deficit of $597,307 and maintains some brick streets where the original plan did not.
Total cost for the project is now estimated at $6.475 million. The borough has $3.738 in ALCOSAN GROW Grant funds and a $991,758 grant from former Congressman Connor Lamb's office to put toward the project. The Borough originally appropriated around $1.561 million for the project.
The Crafton sewer system and stormwater systems are combined along Broadhead Avenue and cause overflow issues. ALCOSAN allows a certain amount of overflow in each municipal sewer system and Crafton is currently exceeding this allowance in the system along Broadhead.
To get into compliance, the borough approved a separation project with a new stormwater system covering 46.6 acres that will drain 21.7 million gallons of stormwater annually into Chartiers Creek.
Council member Kirsten Compitello explained the decision to approve this new plan during the June 8 council meeting.
"We’ve landed on that option through a series of conversations that looked at different options and decided that if we’re doing something that is a substantial redo of a fair number of streets in the borough we’d like to make sure that we get good value out of it and that we end up with… a series of street renovations that residents will be happy with for a long time," she said.
Resident Phylis Barber questioned the borough’s decision to pave over brick streets with asphalt explaining that brick streets require much less maintenance over time and prevent speeding.
Borough Engineer Rick Minsterman explained that the upfront cost of brick is much higher than asphalt and that, while the long-term costs of asphalt were discussed, they are not factored into the cost of the project.
Compitello wanted it to be known that the council had varied opinions on the value of long-term investment.
“I will put on the record that we have varying opinions on the value of upfront costs versus long-term investments," she said.
The cost for full brick restoration on all of the streets is an extra $427,000 over the new plan, according to Compitello.
The final decision on the Broadhead Sewer Separation plan will be made at the July 13 meeting. Bidding on the project will begin either by the end of 2023 or early 2024. The project will be completed by 2025.
Pool house renovation
The final draft design for the pool house renovation was presented by Engineer Minsterman. The goal of the new design is to add bathroom stalls, increase the size of the break room and remove blind spots at the entryway where people might try to sneak in.
Concern over the lack of a door from the breakroom to the pool in the design presented was raised by resident Mary Lexbacher. In the event of an emergency, lifeguards would have to take a longer route through the pool house to either get to the pool or bring injured patrons to the room since it also serves as the first-aid room.
Borough Council members voted unanimously to approve the final design with the addition of a door connecting the break room to the pool at the June 22 meeting.
The final design will be submitted to the PA Department of Conservation and National Resources for approval. Advertising for the project will begin in early July with bidding opening on Aug. 2 and ending Aug. 10. Work will begin in September and continue through to winter.
Minsterman assured that the pool will be open for the 2024 season saying with a chuckle that delaying a pool’s opening is “never really an option.”
The renovation is estimated to cost $580,000 with $250,000 being provided by a grant. Renovating the roof is estimated to cost another $160,000 so it has been delayed until after the interior renovation is completed. It was described as not being urgent.
Luxbacher also asked about the prospect of installing solar panels on the roof of the pool house.
Borough Manager Jim Price, replied saying it is “at the top of his list,” but that it may not be cost-effective. The pool uses a large amount of electricity, but only for three months each year. It is shut off during the other nine months meaning that the electric potential of the solar panels would be wasted. Price is still looking into it.
In other news:
• Council approved a motion to apply for ACT 152 funds to demolish a blighted property at 64 S. Grandview. The demolition would cost about $75,000 and would only happen if the borough receives grant funding for it.
• Crafton Pool is offering aquarobics classes every Monday and Thursday from 7 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. during the pool season. Each class costs $5, but those interested can purchase a $25 card worth six classes.
• Crafton Minigolf is now open every Friday and Saturday from 7 to 9 p.m. until Aug. 26. Price is $2 per person.
• The borough is accepting applicants for vendors for Crafton’s July 4 celebrations.
• Benjamin Valimont was appointed to a three-year term on the Zoning Hearing Board.