Whitehall-Coplay Press

Monday, June 24, 2019

Council talks park process

Wednesday, December 5, 2018 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

Costs up, deadline

At Coplay Borough Council’s workshop meeting Dec. 4, township Engineer Daniel Witczak, of Acela Engineering, presented an assessment of the Saylor Park project.

The original idea was to refurbish the existing Saylor Park into a modern playground with top-flight sports fields. The goal was to use grants from various state agencies and philanthropic groups.

With $375,000 covered in grants, the borough bid out the project. The expected cost of $600,000 has grown to $1 million. The goal then became to scale back the project and get in-kind services. To compound the problem, the clock is ticking on the grant funds. The money needs to be used within a certain time frame or the grants will go to someone else.

In Witczak’s analysis, his group detailed an analysis on costs. The materials included some items available through the state’s buying program, COSTARS. The COSTARS program leverages procurement contracts established by the Pennsylvania Department of General Services and utilizes competitive pricing strategies to achieve the best value for member organizations. The total of materials available on the COSTARS list amounted to $187,000.

Another estimated $200,000 in materials were items to be purchased for in-kind services. The in-kind services are performed by local tradesmen for no cost to the borough. The amount of these gift services is $400,000.

Between grants, lower cost materials on state contract, in-kind services and the bid contract, the borough would need to come up with $250,000 to $300,000 to finish the project.

“We get a million-dollar facility for $300,000 — and that seems like a good decision,” Mayor Dean Molitoris said.

Generally, council agreed and will put the measure out for a vote at the next council meeting. Public works Director Paul Boyle expressed his concerns.

“We are in uncharted waters here with the high amount of in-kind services we are taking on,” he said.

Indeed, there is no guarantee that the services will be performed, and no one is assigned to make sure there is coordination among the various trades and the contractors. An on-site project manager would add another $50,000 to the project. If one of the in-kind services falls through, the borough will then be out trying to get a substitute while the project is delayed waiting for the new contractor to come on board.

So why would council consider moving forward without a firm plan? The grants expire. The first grant expires in March, and that date is after an already-granted extension. The next grant expires in June.

If council decides to go forward with the project and go out for bids, the bid package would be prepared and sent out in January, with a due date of February. Bids could not be rewarded until March at the earliest.

In other action, Anne Killeen asked council about a ruling council made a year ago. Killeen contends that a stone wall built by her neighbor impedes the alleyway between the two houses. Council agreed and asked Ronald Helman, building code official, to monitor the removal. The owners failed to act, and Helman cited them for the violation. There was no follow-up after the citation.

Police Chief Vincent Genovese suggested the owner paid the citation fee and the matter was dropped. Council asked Helman to follow up on the situation.