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Weatherly offices to get more space

Published July 11. 2019 12:29PM

The Weatherly Police Department doesn’t have much space to move around in their 258-square-foot station, which is located inside a historic train station.

It’s not uncommon for them to have to use borough council’s meeting room down the hall for their own meetings or even to keep people separated during a dispute.

The borough’s administrative offices aren’t much bigger than the police station.

But by next summer, both departments, along with Magisterial District Judge Joseph Homanko, will have a new $2 million home with considerably more space.

The grant process has been a long process, which involved rebidding the project twice and changes to the layout of the building and the site.

But at council’s urging, it will be completed entirely with federal and state grants — with no funds coming directly from local taxpayers.

The 8,600-square-foot building will be located on a vacant 12.5-acre lot at the intersection of Plane and West Main streets. The land was once home to the Tung-Sol Electric Plant.

Borough council recently awarded contracts for the site work, general construction, electrical, plumbing and HVAC for the project. The total cost of the contracts was $1,875,300.

A groundbreaking is currently being scheduled, and work is expected to wrap up in March.

Borough manager Harold Pudliner Jr. said the borough has long had a need for additional office space, as well as more secure facilities. The magistrate’s office also has space issues.

The new building includes a 2,680-square-foot police station, which is more than 10 times the size of their current headquarters. It includes two holding cells, space for evidence storage and processing and a bigger patrol room.

The administrative offices and magistrate’s offices are about 3,000 square feet each — considerably larger than their current locations.

The offices will all have increased security. Visitors to each office will be greeted at a lobby window, instead of walking directly into the workspace.

“In our office, people walk right through the office to pay their bills. Now, they’ll come up to a window,” Pudliner said.

The plan calls for a 25-space parking lot, as well as overflow parking in an existing paved area on the site.

Borough council is set to vote on a land development plan for the project at their regular meeting Monday night.

The Carbon County Planning Commission recently recommended that council reject the plan because the plans didn’t fulfill some requirements of the borough’s subdivision and land development ordinance.

Pudliner said the planning commission did its job by reviewing the project, but said many of the concerns centered around getting approval from utilities, which the borough owns, like the electric department and sewer authority.

The project was first introduced more than six years ago but faced several delays. First the borough received a $594,147 grant from the Monroe Local Share Account, a program which uses gaming revenue to fund local projects. The county commissioners then contributed $470,830 in federal grant money it received for the magistrate’s office.

Rather than begin the project with those funds, the borough applied to the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, which requires a $1 million match. They received a $1 million grant, but it was delayed for a year due to the 2016 budget impasse.

Once the grants were assembled, Pudliner said, the cost of construction had increased.

Bids for the project went out last July, but council rejected them for being over budget. A second round of bids, with considerably less site work, was rejected as well.

Council then asked its engineer, Quad3, to change the proposal from three separate buildings to one building with separate entrances for the magistrate and borough functions.

On May 31, council opened the third round of bids and approved the low bidders.

The contracts call for work to begin on July 16, though Pudliner said it may be a bit longer before dirt starts moving.

The borough still needs approval from PennDOT for the driveway accessing the site, but that approval isn’t necessary to start the project.

One of the county planning commission’s concerns is that the driveway for the site is too close to the existing driveway for American Legion Post 360.

Pudliner pointed out that the driveway has existed for decades.

The borough received multiple bids for each of the five contracts for the building.

• Multiscape, Inc. of Pittston, submitted the lowest of three bids for general construction, $1,383,660.

• Umbriac Trucking LLC of Hazleton received the site work contract with a low bid of $236,717. Three other contractors submitted bids.

• Spotts Brothers of Schuylkill Haven submitted the lowest of three bids for HVAC Mechanical construction, $177,700.

• JBM Mechanical of Nazareth submitted the lowest of two bids for plumbing at $134,000.

• Larry McCullion & Son Electrical of Summit Hill submitted the lowest of two bids for electrical at $179,940.

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