News Column

V.F.W. donates almost 5K to Towanda Police Dept.

July 11, 2014

By James Loewenstein, The Daily Review, Towanda, Pa.



July 11--TOWANDA -- Towanda Borough is offering to make low-interest loans to borough residents to repair or replace their sidewalks, the Towanda Borough manager announced this week.

The loan program was discussed at this week's meeting of the Towanda Borough Council, where the council also approved the advertisement for bids for a street paving project, and heard an update on the borough's continuing appeal of its preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Map.

The borough has a total of $14,000 to loan out to residents for sidewalk repairs or replacements, Towanda Borough Manager Kyle V. Lane said.

The maximum loan that would be available to a resident is $3,000, he said.

Some of the sidewalks in the borough are in "deplorable" condition, he said.

The borough has had a program to fund sidewalk repairs "off an on" for many years, Towanda Borough Councilman William Kovalcin Jr. said.

Lane said he plans to apply to the county for federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds which, if they are approved, would allow the borough to also provide grants to residents to repair or replace their sidewalks.

To qualify for such a grant, residents typically would need to have an income below a certain level, Lane said.

However, residents of any income would be eligible to apply for a loan, he said.

Lane said it is too late to apply for the CDBG funding this year, but added that he will apply for it next year.

The paving project that will be bid out will take place on streets near Towanda's school campus.

The paving will take place on Western Avenue, from Pine Street to Mill Street; on Mill Street, from Western Avenue to Lombard Street; and on Lombard Street, from Mill Street to Third Street, Lane said.

The area around the school campus has a relatively high amount of traffic, he said.

Nineteen free, three-hour parking spaces on the Merrill Parkway were recently converted to reserved parking spaces, Lane said. The spaces that were converted are located north of Washington Street, on the east side of the parkway, he said.

The borough rents out reserved parking spaces. The creation of the additional reserved spaces is intended to offset the loss of reserved parking spaces that will occur when the Midtown Parking Lot on Main Street is eliminated to make way for the planned Towanda Terrace development, he said. When the borough's planned $5 million parking garage is constructed, additional reserved spaces that are located in municipal parking lots off State Street will be lost, too, Lane said.

Maps

Lane announced some good news related to the borough's ongoing appeal of its preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Map, which delineates the location of so-called Special Flood Hazard Areas. Hunt Engineers, which is conducting a hydrology study of the Mix Run stream, "feels confident" that a number of homes in the area of Mix Run will be removed from a Special Flood Hazard Area, Lane said. Special Flood Hazard Areas are locations where citizens would be required to obtain flood insurance -- whose annual premiums are projected to rise to thousands of dollars -- in order to qualify for a mortgage from a bank.

Another piece of good news related to the appeal is that FEMA has waived a $5,400 fee that the borough was going to have to pay to submit a Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) to FEMA, Lane said. The submission of the LOMR is a step in the appeal.

FEMA is also stating that the volume of water that is carried by the Susquehanna River during flood events is larger than it was the last time Flood Insurance Rate Maps were established for the region, which occurred decades ago, according to Lane.

Lane said he believes one reason the volume increased is that there are more storm drain systems for roads, which funnel water to the river.

Towanda Police Chief Randy Epler announced that the Towanda Police Department recently received a donation of almost $5,000 from Towanda V.F.W. Post 1658 to purchase five tasers and a number of radios.

Lane said the V.F.W. post has donated thousands more to the police department since he became borough manager in May 2013.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.

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