Bellefonte Council weighs benefits of joining PennDOT project

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is planning to resurface state Route 144, which could cost the borough $154,000.

PennDOT Maintenance Program Engineer David Mader cited the Americans with Disabilities Act in a letter to the borough as the reason to improve curb ramps at intersections along the road.

There are 49 curb ramps along Route 144 through Bellefonte that would cost an estimated $5,500 each to be brought up to ADA standards.

Borough Manager Ralph Stewart said it would make financial sense to join the state’s project, but that it is not a requirement that the borough join the project.

“My thoughts are that we are probably interested in doing the project with PennDOT,” Stewart said.

“We’ve just got to make sure we understand the details, the cost estimates and the funding from highway aid that we receive from the state that we use for these types of projects.”

Stewart said the cost of the project would fall within the borough’s budget and that it’s up to the council to decide whether the project is a priority.

It was also announced during the meeting that the borough has been awarded a $50,000 facade grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for improvement projects to historic buildings in the central and waterfront business districts.

Vana Dainty, Keystone Community Development coordinator, submitted an application for the grant in early 2014.

The grant could put up to $100,000 into the business districts, but property owners must match grant funds.

The funds will be provided by the DCED’s Keystone Communities Program.

The limit for a project is $10,000 in which property owners would get $5,000 and pay $5,000. The DCED will reimburse the business for matching the grant once the project is complete.

Property owners must apply for grant money through the borough’s Historical Architecture Review Board and the Bellefonte Main Street Revitalization Group’s design committee.

Council also approved 8-1 a waiver for land development requirements for a community center at Governor’s Gate Apartments.

Councilman Randy Brachbill was the lone dissenting vote and said he wanted the community center’s design plans to go through regular procedures for approval.

The 2,013-square-foot community center will have a laundry room and will allow apartment residents to hold events.