Easton OKs study for parking garage
Council also refinances $6.7 million bond
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.