Easton OKs study for park­ing garage

Coun­cil also re­fi­nances $6.7 mil­lion bond

The Morning Call - - LOCAL NEWS - By Christina Tatu Christina Tatu can be reached at 610-820-6583 or [email protected]

Easton of­fi­cials will work with engi­neer­ing firm Pen­noni to de­sign a park­ing garage on North Fourth and Church streets be­hind the Easton Public Mar­ket.

The city re­ceived 15 bids with Pen­noni’s $270,300 the low­est. The high­est was $825,080.

The garage will likely have more than 400 park­ing spa­ces with a pedes­trian plaza. City of­fi­cials are hop­ing it’s built by early 2021, city Ad­min­is­tra­tor Luis Cam­pos said.

Of­fi­cials had so­licited bids from pri­vate de­vel­op­ers but be­lieve it will be cheaper to over­see t he project them­selves.

Peter Me­lan was the only coun­cil mem­ber to vote against the con­tract, say­ing coun­cil didn’t see all the bids.

Cam­pos said he and Dave Hopkins, the city’s di­rec­tor of public works, in­ter­viewed 15 can­di­dates, nar­row­ing it down to three and choos­ing Pen­noni.

Me­lan asked if the vote could be tabled for two weeks, but Mayor Sal Panto Jr. said de­lay­ing the North Fourth Street project means the city would also de­lay re­plac­ing the ag­ing Pine Street garage.

City of­fi­cials said they wouldn’t undertake that project un­til a new garage is built to ac­com­mo­date dis­placed cars.

“I’m con­cerned about the money. I know we are on a hir­ing freeze right now. I would like to talk to the ad­min­is­tra­tion about what we are go­ing to do to deal with that,” Me­lan said.

Panto said city of­fi­cials are do­ing a “hir­ing re­view” and are still hir­ing for cer­tain po­si­tions.

“The fire­fight­ers’ over­time killed our bud­get and now we need to cut back in other ar­eas. Some of that is cut­ting back on rev­enue and not po­si­tions. We are re­view­ing every po­si­tion and that hap­pens every Septem­ber,” Panto said.

It was re­ported last month that the fire de­part­ment spent $525,000 on over­time, or $75,000 more than what was bud­geted for this year. Ad­di­tional fire­fight­ers were hired to pro­vide re­lief.

Cam­pos said the North Fourth Street con­tract will be paid for with money from the state’s Re­de­vel­op­ment As­sis­tance Cap­i­tal Pro­gram, but Me­lan said the city still has to put up the money and will be re­im­bursed by the pro­gram at a later date.

As for a time­line on the engi­neer­ing study, the schematic de­sign por­tion is ex­pected to take two to three months, fi­nal de­sign will take another four to six months, and the bid phase will take another one to two months, says a time­line in a Sept. 6 let­ter from Pen­noni to city of­fi­cials.

In other news, City Coun­cil voted unan­i­mously to re­fi­nance a $6.7 mil­lion bond that was used to buy and de­mol­ish the Days Inn at 185 S. Third St. where a sec­ond lo­ca­tion of Da Vinci Science Cen­ter had been slated to go.

That plan fell through in May and the city is seek­ing pro­pos­als from de­vel­op­ers in­ter­ested in the prop­erty.

City Fi­nance Di­rec­tor Mark Lysy­necky said the orig­i­nal bond was a two-year note that was due at the end of this year.

“We had ex­pected Da Vinci to pur­chase that prop­erty from the city, but with that deal hav­ing gone to the way­side, we now have to re­fi­nance,” Lysy­necky said.

The in­ter­est rate on the note is 2.85% and the city has un­til Dec. 15, 2021, to pay it off.

Pro­pos­als from de­vel­op­ers are due at the end of the month.

“The fire­fight­ers’ over­time killed our bud­get and now we need to cut back in other ar­eas.” — Easton Mayor Sal Panto Jr.

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