$300,000 More Debt to Destroy Historic Wall
At an ill-tempered meeting of Sunbury City Council on 9/23/2013 it was decided to take up an “unused line of credit” to cover the estimated cost of $300,000 to destroy the historic WPA wall – a structure damaged by the September 2011 flood – the same wall that they insisted was safe during the spring Primary campaign. Why now? Why the rush?
Councilman Joe Bartello voted against what he termed “fiscal irresponsibility“. Later he expressed his disgust at the decision to remove another piece of Sunbury’s heritage, necessitating, as it does, a further increase in City debt. “This decision has been taken against a backdrop of a lack of funds to support the food bank and other measures designed to help the poorest members of our community.“ He has pledged to reverse this decision should his mayoral campaign prove successful.
According to documentation in our possession dating from just after the flood, the City assigned Buchart and Horn Inc. to prepare an estimate to repair the historic 1942 WPA River Wall. Four sections were damaged amounting to approximately 675 square feet. The contractor was to dismantle and replace existing stone to the original profile of the wall.
Work was to be completed using “nationally accepted and practiced techniques”. As this was an identified Historic Wall, every effort was to be made to return the damaged elements back to pre-disaster conditions incorporating the historic nature – design and build – of the wall. Total cost of the Project is $30,591.68.
It is no coincidence that the Mayor is facing a very determined push to unseat him by Bartello, and does not want to face further criticism for his indecision and inaction over this issue. There is little doubt his Administration think they have hit a home run by making this announcement now. Well, guess what guys, you missed. The sensible course of action would have been to make the repairs, save the City a bundle of money and come out of it all smelling of roses, not saddle our tax-paying citizens with such an increase in City debt.
Army Corps Approve, but Persing & Eister know Better
The Army Corps of Engineers approved this work and FEMA gave the city a grant to cover the cost in full, so restoration should have been a no brainer, but apparently Councilman Eister and Mayor Persing know better. “$30,000 is not enough” according to them. Also, according to Eister, “the wall will probably need repairing every 10 years”.
Well, do the math Jim. $30,000 every 10 years means it would take 100 years for the cost of repairs to equal the cost of this replacement, and nobody knows what the maintenance costs of the new wall will be. Certainly the Redi Rock recently installed as part of the Riverfront Project is already showing signs of wear and tear and bulging in a few spots. This hardly inspires confidence in its potential for longevity, especially when you consider that the WPA wall itself has been in place for over 70 years.
Why does the Persing administration really want to spend $300,000 that it does not have. No doubt both Redi Rock and the Northumberland National Bank, managed by daughter Lisa Persing, will be extremely grateful for the business, but what about our citizens. It is on them that will fall the burden of repayment, no doubt in the form of increased taxes, already rumored to be in the offing should Persing be successful in his re-election attempt. Last time Persing was removed from office he left behind City debts of around $800,000. History seems to be in danger of repeating itself.
Want to Increase Safety? Give the Money to our PD!
Persing was also quoted in our local “newspaper” as saying that he wanted to do everything he could to ensure the safety of residents. Here is a revolutionary idea for you, Mr. Mayor. How about saving this money by repairing the wall, and giving it instead to our hard-up police department. We are sure it would go a considerable way to financing a full time detective, as well as covering additional overtime payments, so that they will finally have the resources to tackle the crime wave threatening to engulf our city.
Currently, according to their own reports, our police can only respond to around 500 of the 1000 or so calls made to them each month. Also, we have a gang problem, with drug dealers and drug houses operating with impunity throughout the city, and yet, this is never mentioned in the Daily Item. If fact. Sunbury hardly ever gets mentioned at all in this publication. Unfortunately the problems of our city will not go away simply because Persing and editor Gary Grossman are brushing them all under a rug.
Those of you who actually still subscribe to this sad excuse for a newspaper can do a simple exercise. Take the local section and check it every day for a week. How many stories can you find about Sunbury? Now, how many stories can you find about problems in Sunbury? None? You got it!