Last updated: February 19. 2013 8:00PM - 252 Views

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Dear Editor:
The following is a description of the process and facts concerning the proposed LSA grant to renovate and upgrade a building for the Harveys Lake Police Department. This grant application was initially filed electronically to the State of Pennsylvania for consideration. Mayor Clarence Hogan, Fran Kopko and I compiled the information requested in the grant with the help of borough secretary Susan Sutton. Other than Susan‚??s time to organize the information requests, the team donated all of its time to complete this application without expending public funds needed for borough services.
This grant was initially begun at the end of 2010 and submitted in early 2011. Until notification of the award to Harveys Lake in March 2012, there was no reason to make any further remarks regarding the submission. After that notification, Council announced it during a public meeting and began the process of documenting what was needed to complete the grant by 2014.
To date, several members of the Harveys Lake Council have delayed this project with requests to review the existing police building structure several times, rewrite the grant, provide alternate pricing exercises and investigate modular construction alternatives. These requests have been at the expense of our police department staff and borough taxpayers in the approximate amount of $1,000 from the general budget. I have agreed to most of these requests in order to make this grant process completely transparent to the public. Unfortunately, there is a continued effort to renovate the existing building with the hope that it will not go over budget.
The facts prove that this is unattainable with the current funds available. Today, we still have a deteriorated building that our police department is currently occupying and many reports and facts have indicated the best and most appropriate use of funds is to renovate the masonry recreation building located on Little League Road and move all borough services to one location. The General Municipal Authority of Harveys Lake (GMAHL) has verbally requested the space currently occupied by our borough offices be turned back over to them in the near future. Combining all borough services in one location would save tax dollars in energy consumption, food and hourly expenses that will accumulate as time passes.
The committee for this grant worked in conjunction with the police department to confirm and verify its building needs, location, safety and save tax dollars with a more efficient department. Our chief has saved more than $10,000 in taxpayer funds and will continue to improve the department‚??s performance with these needed improvements.
The vacancy of the current police building would allow for a proper and thorough investigation of the existing structure and future planning concepts that may allow it to become a state-of-the-art police station that contributes to the architecture of Harveys Lake with proper funding sources.
This design concept would be added to the Harveys Lake Comprehensive Plan currently being updated by borough engineers.
The recreation building located on Little League Road is in good condition due to the fact that the borough has been heating the vacant building and sustaining a well-maintained structure. Unfortunately, several windows have been vandalized through the years but their energy efficiency is very low and would require replacement to meet code. This structure was chosen due to its vacancy, good condition, safe structure, newer roof and adequate utilities. It was also chosen due to its location adjacent to the borough garage that maintains all police vehicles.
The current format of our police department is to be on the road during a shift and not sitting in the office. This will continue regardless of the location of the station. The water in the recreation building was tested several times and a certified plumber inspected the well to verify the condition and any possible problems before the start of renovations. The current set of plans will bring this structure up to current 2012 IBC (International Building Code) standards for handicapped access, energy efficiency and public building standards that are less than adequate at the current location. Not only have we had local builders take a look at these structures, we have also had the borough engineer verify structural conditions, zoning and use regulations before proceeding with any renovation plans. It is the engineers‚?? opinion that the recreation building is the best and most appropriate use of funds to meet our goal of limiting construction costs to the amount of the grant.
The current status of the police department building does not meet the department‚??s needs and is deteriorated beyond economical repair. The current structure is built upon a partial floating concrete slab on a grade with no foundation. These structural conditions have amplified settlement conditions evident in the uneven floors that do not meet ADA accessibility requirements. This building currently lacks proper water pressure and toilet facilities that would require extensive excavation to repair. In 2010, borough council investigated the installation of a new water line across Route 415 to feed this building and the estimated cost of $30,000 to $90,000 was not possible without drastic tax increases. This is one of many cost concerns that forced the committee to search for other possible solutions for the location of the police station.
It has also been noted in the borough engineer‚??s recent report requested by council that there has been water infiltration penetrating the wood structure that will most likely require major structural work and/or replacement not included in any estimates due to the unknown nature of the work required. Most of the existing siding will also require replacement and should be replaced with a more durable, longer-lasting masonry material that requires less maintenance and creates a safer structure. Although environmental testing and a study were not completed, there is a severe musty odor, indicating water penetration and possible mold is present. This test was not completed in the essence to save tax dollars and not expend any additional funds on this decrepit structure.
It is apparent that this wood frame structure has outlived its lifespan and should be replaced with a new structure that meets today‚??s building industry requirements.
There were also requests to investigate prefabricated building structures to replace the current building location. I requested several quotes from prefab building manufacturers to supply the borough with a prefab structure. A new structure would cost between $150 and $200 per square foot, totaling $150,000 minimum for a 1500 square foot structure that meets our needs. This price does not include any foundation, utility services or freight to get the structure here. I also looked into used prefabricated building structures in the northeast that may meet our needs with a minimum budget of $80,000 for the structure that may need repairs in the near future. Again, this is a good idea but unattainable with our current grant funds.
As council president, I wanted to make this current issue for our community as transparent and clear as possible so that everyone can understand the facts regarding the awarded LSA grant to Harveys Lake Borough. Anyone with questions or an interest in discussing these issues in more detail may contact me anytime.
Larry Radel
Council president
Harveys Lake Borough
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