2015-05-05 Council Minutes

MINUTES
HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL
REGULAR MEETING
TUESDAY, MAY 5, 2015

Call to Order:  Council met in regular session on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 in Council Chambers. The meeting was called to order at 6:00 p.m.

Silent Meditation and Pledge of Allegiance:  A silent moment was taken followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call:  Bast-present; Cusat-present; Mope-present; Sosar-present; Mundie-present

Minutes of Previous Meetings:  The minutes of the February 17, 2015, March 3, 2015, and March 17, 2015 Regular Meetings, and the March 17, 2015 and April 7, 2015 Business License Appeal Hearings were approved unanimously.

Proclamations/Communications:  None.

Courtesy of the Floor:  Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton commented on Resolution 2015-49. She asked when this bid was opened at a Council meeting. Sosar replied that it was never opened at a Council meeting. Deakos asked where the money is coming from for the Airport project, because money was never budgeted for this. Dominic Yannuzzi, City Engineer, said 5% is coming from the Airport Fund. There is a $56,000 surplus in that fund. Deakos said that surplus should be used to pay the City back, because the Airport owes the City a lot of money. She recommended tabling Resolution 2015-49.

Mark Rabo, 8 West 1st Street, Hazleton commented on Resolution 2015-47. He said he sent in a request for a copy of the application for Main Street designation, but still has not received it. He looked over the Strategic Downtown Revitalization Plan and asked how this project will be sustained over the next five years. He said he spoke to DCED about this. Rabo did not see in the Plan where the funding is coming from. He asked if the County Planning Commission was notified of this change, and if they were given a copy of the Plan. Rabo said this is required because the landscape of downtown Hazleton is being changed. He said this will also change the County’s Comprehensive Plan.

Grace Cuozzo, 948 James Street, Hazleton commented on Resolution 2015-47. She asked why Council is being asked to approve and adopt a plan not done by a government agency. Cuozzo said the Redevelopment Authority should be involved in this matter. She asked why Resolutions 2015-49 and 2015-50 do not contact dollar amounts. 

Old Business:

ORDINANCES

None.

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2015-44 A Resolution Authorizing the Transfer of Liquor License No. R-5777 and LID No. 64103 to Smoke Rings Cigar Bar, Inc. for Premises Located at 1008 North Vine Street, Hazleton, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania (TABLED 4/21/15)

Motion to Remove from Table:

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Cusat.

Roll Call (on Motion to Remove from Table):  Bast-yes; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

MOTION TO REMOVE FROM TABLE PASSES UNANIMOUSLY RESOLUTION REMOVED FROM TABLE

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Mundie said it is refreshing that someone wants to invest in Hazleton. He added that opening a business is always a risk, but it is a great idea for that area. Mope said the owners are reputable and she wished them success. She was glad to see business coming into Hazleton instead of moving out.

Roll Call:  Bast-yes; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

New Business:

ORDINANCES

None.

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2015-47 Resolution Supporting the Strategic Downtown Revitalization Plan

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Cusat.

On the Question:

Sosar said the Plan is impressive but “lacks numbers.” He said this project needs to sustain itself financially. He asked where the funding sources are because they were not in the report. Sosar made a motion to table the Resolution and Mope seconded the motion.

Motion to Table:

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

Roll Call (on Motion to Table):  Bast-no; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

MOTION TO TABLE PASSES 4-1 RESOLUTION TABLED

***Council suspended the rules and revisited this Resolution. Please refer to page six of these minutes for more information.***

Motion to Remove from Table:

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mundie.

Roll Call (on Motion to Remove from Table):  Bast-yes; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

MOTION TO REMOVE FROM TABLE PASSES UNANIMOUSLY RESOLUTION REMOVED FROM TABLE

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mundie.

Roll Call:  Bast-yes; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2015-48 A Resolution Approving Payment of Unused Compensation Time to the City Clerk

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Mundie.

Roll Call:  Bast-yes; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2015-49 Recommendation of Award for Hazleton Regional Airport Runway Safety Area Project

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mundie.

On the Question:

Dominic Yannuzzi said Matt Dunn from Delta Airport Consultants worked on this with him, and was present when the bids were opened. He said $1.3 million needs to be invested in the Airport for safety and security reasons. Yannuzzi said the bids were opened today at the Airport regarding this matter in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration guidelines. It will be paid for with 95% grant funds and 5% Airport funds. Bast asked if there was a surplus this year at the Airport, and Yannuzzi responded yes. He said there were not as many expenses as there were last year, and all of the fuel reserves are paid for. Sosar asked how many bids were received, and Yannuzzi responded only one. Sosar said he has a problem with awarding projects when only one bid is received. He asked Cohen for his legal opinion on the matter. Cohen said one bid could still be the lowest responsible bidder. Sosar commented that 5% of the funds for this project are coming from the Airport Fund, but the Airport owes the City money and it has not yet been repaid. He said the Airport keeps taking more money and not paying it back. Sosar said that money could be used to fund City projects and fix streets. Yannuzzi said the money in the Airport Fund can only be used at the Airport. The City did not give the Airport any money last year. He added that the Airport is now 100% self-sustaining. Mope asked if some of this money was used to purchase a license plate reader and Yannuzzi responded yes. Mope asked why they just cannot call the police for that. Yannuzzi responded it is only installed on one vehicle and it is a self-operational system. It is only used for security at the Airport. Mope suggested they borrow the Police Department’s license plate reader. Yannuzzi responded only the Police can use that system, and the Airport is not allowed access to it. Mundie asked if it is a homeland security issue, and Yannuzzi replied yes. He said the Airport has planes coming in from all over the country. Mope was concerned that the information received from the license plate reader might be “sold off.” Yannuzzi said he would prefer to discuss this matter in an executive session. Mundie said it makes sense for security reasons. Yannuzzi said the Police can expand on the system so it can be utilized by the City, and it would not tie up a cruiser. Sosar said he is tired of seeing City money going to the Airport because it seems like we cannot get it back. Mundie said they are receiving a grant for over $1 million. Bast stated none of the money for this project is coming from City funds. Cusat stated the City partially funds the Airport. Cusat made a motion to table the Resolution, but no one seconded the motion.

Motion to Table:

Presented by Cusat. No Second.

MOTION TO TABLE FAILS DUE TO LACK OF SECOND

Back on the Question:

Mope asked where the readers and security cameras will be placed, and Yannuzzi responded they will be placed at each gate and the terminal. Bast asked how many will be purchased, and Yannuzzi replied there will be several dozen cameras and readers. Bast asked how this project came about. Yannuzzi said this came from the Bureau of Aviation and the Federal Aviation Administration. Security at the Airport is a top priority. Bast asked what happens if you cannot come up with the 5% match. Yannuzzi said there is about $50,000 in the Airport fund right now. Once the fuel is sold, an additional $60,000 will be put into the fund. Bast asked if there was a timeline for completion. Yannuzzi stated they will be allocating funds for this fiscal year and the next fiscal year. The fiscal year begins on July 1st. Mundie asked if the traffic will increase, and Yannuzzi said slightly. He stated that an extra 103 feet will be added to the runway as a safety area extension, which brings the total runway to 5,000 feet or more. This will be more reliable based on weather conditions, and Aircraft will be able to get better insurance rates. Bast asked if over 5,000 feet is better, and Yannuzzi replied yes. Sosar asked if there is going to be a problem with an extension on the eastern side because planes come very close to Route 309 in this area. Yannuzzi said the landing pad coming from the east will not change. Markings will be updated for better visibility and fencing will be upgraded. A new key card system will also be installed in order to gain access in and out. Mundie asked if Hazleton Site Contractors will be doing all of the work. Yannuzzi said some of the work will be subcontracted. He stated they received 15 requests for bid packets, but only one company responded. There is only a 50-day window to complete the project as per the Bureau of Aviation. Yannuzzi said the project is expected to be completed in September or October. Mope asked if the match is required up front, and Yannuzzi responded no. It can come to them in pieces. The money will be transferred to the City and then dispersed to the contractors. Mundie asked who does the inspections. Matt Dunn said Delta Airport Consultants does the inspections. Sosar said the Airport will realize a loss, if the fuel was purchased at a higher price than what it will be sold for. Yannuzzi stated the fuel was purchased two to three months ago at a low price, and it will be sold for 30¢ more per gallon. Cusat said he received an updated report today from Tom Pribula. At the beginning of the year, the Airport Fund had a surplus of $50,000, but it is now down to $2,500. Yannuzzi said there was $80,000 surplus in the Airport Fund at the beginning of 2015. He said that revenues at the Airport will continue to increase and more money will be coming in. He added that a cell phone company is building a cell tower at the Airport, which will also increase revenue. Yannuzzi said he is also trying to negotiate with the State Police so they stay at the Airport. Mundie said he feels this should be discussed in executive session. Cusat asked if this Resolution needs to be passed tonight. Yannuzzi responded there is only 50 days to complete this and the Bureau of Aviation wants to move this along as quickly as possible. The Bureau of Aviation will also need to review this.

Roll Call:  Bast-yes; Cusat-no; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES 4-1

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Resolution 2015-50 Recommendation of Award for Hazleton Center City Park Project

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Cusat.

On the Question:

Sosar said he wants to beautify the downtown area, but other parts of Hazleton need help, such as Diamond Avenue, Wyoming Street, etc. He does not want money continuing to be funneled into Downtown Hazleton. Bast said that Community Development money should not be going to fund a park. He agreed with Sosar that there are other areas of the City that could use help. Sosar said it is time for these other areas to receive help. Mope said she agrees but the project has already started and it needs to be completed. She was concerned with where the financing for this project was coming from. Mope said that there are many areas of the City that need help. Community Development is always being used, and there needs to be other sources of money for these types of projects. Sosar asked if this needs to go to the Planning Commission or if anything else needs to be done with this project. Dominic Yannuzzi said this is being paid for with grant funds, and there is also grant money pending from the LSA. Sosar said if the City is required to pay any match, his vote will be no. Yannuzzi stated this would be the match to the LSA. Mundie asked if anything has been awarded yet, and Yannuzzi responded no. Cusat was concerned with passing this Resolution without a Plan. Yannuzzi said Council already passed a Resolution allocating money for the park, so there should be no problem passing this Resolution without a Plan.

Roll Call:  Bast-no; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES 4-1

Comments from the Audience:  Grace Cuozzo, 948 James Street, Hazleton commented on the timbering at the Airport. Dominic Yannuzzi said trees are being removed at Runway 28, which was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration for safety reasons. There is no cost for cutting these trees. Yannuzzi said a bid was put out for this timbering, but they received no bidders. He talked to numerous timbering companies, but none of them were interested in the project. He stated Andy’s Firewood is doing it for free, but he gets to keep all of the wood. Yannuzzi said Andy’s Firewood is owned by Andrew and George Gortva. They will also be getting rid of all of the scraps, such as branches, etc. Mundie asked if Gortva has a contract and Yannuzzi said no. It is a volunteer agreement, and he is only removing the identified obstruction on the primary airfield. Matt Dunn from Delta Airport Consultants said the Bureau of Aviation determines what trees to remove. Yannuzzi stated this is inspected every year. Mope asked if there was a report from them, and Yannuzzi responded yes. He will send it to Council. Sosar asked why these other companies refused to do the timbering. Yannuzzi stated that they all wanted to be paid a lot of money. Sosar was concerned that these trees are being timbered using a straight cut. He said this type of cut may cause poor drainage and erosion. Yannuzzi said the Federal Aviation Administration wants it to be a meadow with no trees. The trees are usually cut two to three times per year. The most critical trees have already been removed, and some were on City property and some were on private property. Sosar said the Airport had a new Hedgehog that was used for cutting only a few times, but it was seen broken down. Yannuzzi said that is false. The Hedgehog is still being used and in good condition. Cuozzo was concerned with the drainage. Yannuzzi said the trees are being cut in accordance with the Bureau of Aviation and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton asked if there was money put aside for engineering in the contract. Mundie said the contract is only with Delta Airport Consultants. Yannuzzi said the money for engineering is coming from a grant. Deakos said pay cuts should be issued to the higher paid employees, and Council should pass a Resolution regarding this matter. Mundie said Council is working on it.

Mark Rabo, 8 West 1st Street, Hazleton questioned the sustainability of the Airport. He suggested creating an Airport Authority. Mundie said they are looking into it. Rabo had concerns with the hookah lounge on Diamond Avenue. He said there are a lot of shootings there. He assumed once Council passed the Nuisance Abatement Ordinance, it would be closed, but it is still open. Mundie asked if the hookah lounge was still open, and Rick Wech, Code Enforcement Officer, said that he is not working on that. He said Mike Wilfing would be making that decision. Rabo said he did some research and the City can adopt a recreational development fee for developers. He stated that Luzerne County applied for a Marcellus Shale grant, and the City should look into this. The City can still apply for this grant until June 30, 2015.

Kristen Schneider, Executive Director, Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress regarding Resolution 2015-50. Sosar asked if this project is going to continually drain the City’s resources. He said we cannot continue to focus solely on downtown. Sosar said the Plan does not indicate anything about the financials. He stated he does not want the City funding anything else for this park. Schneider said this is City-owned property and is currently unusable as it is. Once completed, this will provide additional revenue in taxes and will increase property values. Schneider said they never asked the City for any money for this project. The matching funds were collected from private entities. She said they will be applying for a grant for the Wyoming Street Streetscape project in the future. The City would need to apply for this on their behalf, but the City will have no financial commitments. Mundie asked if the Strategic Plan needs to be passed today. Schneider said the sooner it is passed, the better, because they need to apply for Main Street designation as soon as possible. Mundie asked if Schneider was familiar with the guidelines for the Main Street designation. Schneider said yes. She said they have stringent reporting requirements, and the project needs to show progress. Mope asked the source of the funds that will be used to sustain this. Schneider said that would be the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress’s responsibility. She said they need to show financial sustainability for five years. This is being privately funded. A Resolution from Council is required. Mark Rabo said that all components of the project must be presented first, and Schneider responded that is not true. She said the state will decide if we meet the requirements. She added that there is no City financial contribution required. Sosar asked if the City has any money invested in the Parking Garage, and Yannuzzi said no. It is all being completed with LSA funds. Sosar asked if the City is just assisting with applying for the grants, and Schneider responded yes. Schneider said the Marcellus Shale Grant can be used for improvements. Mundie said there was a conference held with Congressman Cartwright regarding grants, and asked if anyone from the Alliance went to it. Schneider said no, she did not know about it. Mundie said the Mayor should have sent someone from the City to this conference. Mundie made a motion to suspend the rules and return to Resolution 2015-47. Cusat seconded the motion.

Motion to Suspend the Rules and Revisit Resolution 2015-47:

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Cusat.

Roll Call:  Bast-yes; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

MOTION TO SUSPEND THE RULES AND REVISIT RESOLUTION 2015-47 PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

***At this point, Council revisited Resolution 2015-47, removed it from the table, and passed it. See page five of these minutes for more information.***

John Homa, Hazleton said the Mayor should be here. He stated Council is doing a phenomenal job. He asked everyone to be decent to each other.

Judy Yurcho, 984 North Locust Street, Hazleton said she received a call from a survey company about what part of the City is “bringing us down.” She told them the main problems are crime and dilapidated buildings. She said Hazleton is not going to be like it was before. Yurcho said businesses will not be coming downtown just because there is a nice park there. Businesses what to open up in areas where there is not a lot of crime. She stated the City gets grants for “stupid things.” The Parking Garage renovations are a waste of time, and it should be torn down. There are potholes and garbage everywhere, and crime is rampant. Yurcho asked that Council listen to what the people want. She said the taxpayers cannot afford another tax to pay for more police officers. Yurcho stated that the City needs to bring in more business. She asked if the person doing the timbering at the Airport signed anything in case he gets hurt on City property. This would put the City in a liability issue. Mundie said he would look into it. Yannuzzi said they are covered by workers compensation and liability insurance. Yurcho wished all the candidates good luck in the primary election.

Norman Tarantino, 154 North Lee Court, Hazleton thanked the City for taking his garbage after the fire at his home. He asked what is being done with the former St. Joseph’s Hospital. He asked if we can remove the clause about having it be a medical facility. Mope said they are looking into it. She said this was done by the hospital and they did not approve of it. The property was sold to a private developer. If it is not going to be developed, we would need a different plan. She stated if it changes hands, it goes back to the state. Mope said the hospital is currently doing a study regarding their plans for this building. Tarantino said he glad to see Council taking a proactive approach. Mope said sometimes we cannot discuss what we are working on until the process is completed. Mundie said when it was found out that the hospital will be leaving Hazleton, a committee should have been formed and had a meeting with the President of the Hospital to discuss the matter. He suggested donating some land to them to build on.

Comments from Mayor:  None.

Comments from Junior Council:  Joel Soto said he liked the ideas in the Plan for Downtown Hazleton. He said it is a great starting point. He added that crime is a big problem.

Josh Narrow said he also liked the plans for Downtown Hazleton, but he would like to know how it is going to be financially sustained over the years.

Comments from Council:  Bast thanked everyone for coming, and said he hopes everything with the Airport works out. He thanked Lisa Shema, City Clerk for her service. Bast said Shema helped him out a lot over the past three and a half years, and thanked her for that.

Cusat said he wants to see more businesses come into Hazleton. He thanked Shema for everything.

Sosar thanked Shema and congratulated her on her new job. He said the three candidates for Mayor should be out there on the streets and promoting Hazleton. Sosar said Council is trying to its best for the City. He said he was happy that the Airport was doing much better, but he is not happy with the way the timbering is being done. He said this needs to be done safely and be environmentally acceptable. He asked the voters to take a close look at all of the candidates when voting, because Hazleton’s future depends on it.

Mope thanked Shema and wished her success. She thanked everyone for coming. She thanked Dominic Yannuzzi for explaining what is going on at the Airport. Mope said Council “feeds off the public’s input,” but it cannot find a solution immediately. These things take some time, but Council is working on them.

Mundie thanked Shema and wisher her success. He stated the Hazleton City Authority is implementing single stream recycling. All glass, plastic and paper can be put into one bin, and do not have to be separated. There will be one large bin for each property, and they can be picked up at the Water Authority. Mundie said Kreitzer Brothers is doing a great job with the garbage and recycling collections. Mope commented that these new bins may help alleviate some of the littering problems because of the size of these containers. Mundie said it is every person’s fundamental right to vote, and he asked everyone to get out and vote on May 19, 2015.

Adjournment:  Mundie motioned to adjourn the meeting with Mope seconding the motion. Meeting adjourned.

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