Act 13 funds to support new center

BY STACI WILSON

Montrose council announced Monday its plans to use the Act 13 revenue to open a community center on the corner of Mill and High streets.

Council’s agreement with owner, Alice Davis, should effectively bring to a close a lawsuit filed against the borough after council and the zoning hearing board denied a request to convert the former gymnasium into an apartment building.

The borough will pay $5,000 per month in rent for the nearly 10,000 sq. foot space.

Councilman Sean Granahan said the opening of a community center would directly benefit borough residents who have been impacted by the area’s gas boom.

“We’re thankful to Alice for meeting with us and for getting something nice for the community as well,” Granahan said.

But plans in how the building will be used have not been decided.

Council is looking for input at the Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m., meeting.

Local community organizations and groups are invited to attend the meeting and to submit ideas and suggestions on how the space should be used. Council members said they would prefer suggestions and ideas in writing.

The space, for example, Granahan said could be used for various exercise classes that take place around the town; or by the Montrose Area Adult School for classes; as a voting precinct; and/or as an incubator for businesses.

“It’s a win-win,” he said.

The question mark that remains with the facility is the pool.

Councilman Craig Reimel said opening the pool could be looked at in the future but was not in the borough’s immediate plans for the community center.

In other business, council set 2013 meeting dates. The council will meet on the first Monday of the month at 7 p.m., and the third Monday of the month at 7:30 p.m.; with the exception of September. Council will only hold one meeting in that month, on Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. All meetings are held in the borough building on Cherry St.

Council approved the purchase of 26 replacement locks for the parking meters. Total cost of the locks will be about $375.

An inventory of the meters will begin on Dec. 10. The annual process is expected to take about two weeks to complete.

Mayor John Wilson reported he has received complaints of cars parking in the sidewalk area in front of the Dollar General. Although unmarked, the sidewalk on the west side of South Main St. continues from the Butler’s Pantry, in front of the Dollar General and past the Original.

The borough will investigate to see if the sidewalk can be marked and if no parking signs can be posted.

Borough solicitor Marion O’Malley whether or not the police were covered by insurance if something were to happen while they were assisting another law enforcement agency outside of the borough limits.

Chief Dale Smith said the state’s municipal police act provided an umbrella during mutually assistance calls.

Smith said he would provide the solicitor with a copy of the act for her to review.

Council adopted a resolution allowing local earned income tax collector, Berkheimer, to collect delinquent E-I-T taxes and impose a cost on those delinquent taxpayers.

Council President Tom LaMont was appointed to serve as the confidential contact to Berkheimer.

Council also discussed the cost of convening the zoning hearing board and how much of that cost should be placed on the individual applicant looking to come before the board for a hearing.

Granahan suggested a fee of $1,500 be imposed to cover the cost of payment to the board members, the solicitor, stenographer and other costs association with zoning hearings.

Councilwoman Julanne Skinner said she thought a $1,500 fee was excessive. “It seems too much to me,” she said.

Council also discussed the possibility of creating a tiered approach to costs, with uncontested matters coming before the board charged a lesser amount.

Some issues will cost the borough $6000-$7000, Granahan said. “It should be cost prohibited,” he said.

Councilman Todd Chamberlain suggested looking at other municipalities to see how they handle zoning hearing board costs.

And Reimel suggested finding out if there was a state cap on what a municipality could charge.