CONNEAUT LAKE — In a surprise move, Conneaut Lake Borough Council has passed a resolution to put new limits on action which can be taken on the second phase of a revitalization project without prior approval by council.
Mario deBlasio, who was elected to council last year, presented the resolution that was approved by a 5-1 vote at last week's meeting. Bill Eldridge, chairman of the Conneaut Lake Community Development Committee (CLCDC), which has spearheaded the revitalization project, voted against the resolution. Councilman Mike Krepps was absent from the meeting, which was done via Zoom because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The resolution passed with no comment from council members except from Eldridge and Penny Monahan, who said she had not seen the resolution before the meeting. Eldridge objected to the resolution, noting it was a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) project, funded by a PennDOT grant. It involves improvements from Second Street to Third Street on Water Street, which is the main street through town.
The resolution, which was not on the agenda, says the purpose was to provide oversight and coordination of Phase Two of the Water Street construction and to guarantee that the voices of the citizens of Conneaut Lake will be heard through the elected officials.
• The day-to-day management of subcontractors, engineers and inspections will be done by the project manager.
• The project manager will be the primary point of contact between the borough and any contractors, subcontractors, engineers and other government bodies.
• The project manager will assist the borough secretary by creating a filing system of documents detailing the plans, specifications and correspondence of the project.
• The project manager agrees that he shall provide copies of all documents to the borough secretary.
• The project manager agrees to copy the borough secretary, council president, mayor and any other council member who requests copies of all correspondence, including e-mails.
• The project manager does not have permission to make any changes in the plans or specifications of the project without written prior unanimous approval from the property committee for any changes with a value of $5,000 or less.
• The project manager does not have permission to make changes to the plans or specifications that will increase or decrease the cost of the project more than $5,000 with prior approval by a majority vote of council.
• The project manager will make monthly reports at regular borough council meetings.
• The borough secretary will on behalf of all council members within 10 days from approval provide a copy of the resolution via email to all contractors, subcontractors and engineers involved in the project.
• The resolution supersedes all prior resolutions.
Eldridge said the resolution sounded quite detailed and since he had not seen it, there was no time to research it, but he believed many of the clauses he heard would not work.
Monahan asked for a copy of the resolution, saying, "Hearing doesn't work for me. I have to read it."
Council member Ryan Lang said he did not think the resolution was going to handicap anyone in the project and it will help keep the borough in the loop.
Eldridge suggested tabling the resolution for a month until there was time to read it thoroughly.
Council President Dick Holabaugh said he believes there would be no downside to the project.
Eldridge said the project is expected to begin in one month.
After the meeting, Eldridge said he was surprised with the resolution since he is chair of CLCDC and thought he would have been told about it in advance. He did not know about the resolution until deBlasio presented it at the meeting.
Eldridge was emailed a copy 35 minutes after the meeting started, he said.
The subject of CLCDC and council working together on the revitalization project has been discussed many times over the past few years.
At the October meeting, after a long and heated discussion, council gave the committee a "vote of confidence" in managing the revitalization project.
The main discussion in whether council is trying to "micromanage" the day-to-day as well as the overall operation of the project, according to previous discussion.
At the October meeting, council assured Bob Moss, one of the founders of CLCDC, and others that the committee had its support. At the November meeting, council again had praise for CLCDC and its work.