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St. Albans on track to issue more water bonds

St. Albans City Council is on track to issue $2.7 million in bonds for water and sewer line improvements. 

In addition to the new money, the city has $600,000 left over from a 2010 bond issue and expects to gain at least $147,000 by refinancing the 2010 bonds.

The top priority is Pennsylvania Avenue, Mayor Dick Callaway has said. The state intends to repave the road. The city wants to replace the water line under it before repaving begins.

There are many other worthy projects if any money is left over after the work on Pennsylvania Avenue is completed, Callaway said.

During a discussion of the 2010 bond issue refinancing, Jim DeCarlo asked if a third reading of the proposal could be eliminated so work on Pennsylvania Avenue could be expedited.

 DeCarlo said, "The condition of Pennsylvania Avenue is so bad, some of the pavement is down to the fourth layer." DeCarlo said he represents 34 members of the River Park Homeowners Association.

John Stump of the law firm Steptoe & Johnson, the city's bond counsel, said the number of required readings is specified in state law and can't be waived.

Councilman Ron Colby asked, "Couldn't we have a special meeting sooner? Mr. DeCarlo is concerned, like I am, that we're going to be trying to put down asphalt in November."

"You can do that," Stump said.

But the lead-time required would total at least 12 days so not much time would be saved, he said.

With that, council gave approval to the first reading of the $2.7 million bond issue and passed second reading of the 2010 bond issue refinancing.

In other action, council held a public hearing and then agreed to apply for a federal Housing and Urban Development Small Cities Block Grant of up to $500,000 for a playground in the Ordnance Park area.

Councilman Stephen Donelson asked if the grant application could specify that the city wants to build a skate park in Ordnance Park.

Terry Martin of the Regional Intergovernmental Council said that would not work because the money must be used to assist areas that serve low- and moderate-income families.

He said Ordnance Park is the only census tract in the city that qualifies. He said a skate park would serve the entire city and, in fact, most people who would use it would come from outside the city.

"The grant application is predominantly for the children of Ordnance Park," he said. "We talked to the West Virginia Development Office. They feel a skate park would be for the city. You have to qualify the project, that it meets the needs of low- and moderate-income families."

Martin said it is possible that money for a skate park could be obtained from another grant program.

Also at the meeting, a proposed new ordinance to register and regulate vacant buildings was pulled from the agenda so the legal language can be fine-tuned. Callaway said the city has demolished 44 vacant buildings in recent years and 55 more have been identified.

 "I hope you'll see this ordinance at our next session," he said.

Callaway is president of the West Virginia Municipal League. He said the home rule pilot project, which the state Legislature has extended for five years, will give cities more flexibility to deal with abandoned properties.

In other action, council agreed to lease a new $68,757 rescue truck for the Fire Department from Country Roads Leasing Limited Liability Co. of Bridgeport. The city will pay a 2.65 percent interest rate and pay $1,261 a month for five years.

Also at the meeting, Callaway presented a proclamation to the Salvation Army's Boys and Girls Club of St. Albans, honoring the national organization's 150th anniversary and the local club for its after-school program.

During announcements:

* Callaway said council would lay the levy and certify the primary election results at 5 p.m. today at a meeting in the Municipal Utility Commission Conference Room in City Hall.

* Councilwoman Cheryl Thomas noted that all Neighborhood Watch participants will meet at 7 p.m. today at the high school.

* Councilman Dan Cain Sr. pointed out that Councilwoman Helen Warren, who did not seek re-election, would soon leave council with 40 years of service.

Warren said, "It's been a pleasure. I've enjoyed it." She received a warm round of applause.



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