Wilkes-Barre was asked to fund repairs to the Parking Elevator for ARP money

WILKES-BARRE – The city could eventually debug and replace elevators in Wilkes-Barre garages with $ 1.3 million in pandemic relief.

At a working session on Tuesday night, the city council heard about the urgent need for two new elevators and the repair of three more.

Thomas Torbick, the agency’s executive director, and his attorney, Murray Ufberg, presented the board with handouts detailing the project and an estimate of $ 1,241,815. Often elevators do not work and spare parts are hard to find, which causes complaints and harms businesses.

“We’ve reached a point where we’re really running out of work,” Uffberg said. “They are closed. And that’s why we can’t work effectively without their presence. “

Uffberg added that Mayor George Brown offered to help with the grant subject to approval by the Council at a public meeting on Thursday night.

“It will be a partnership if you approve it,” Brown said. Deputy City Administrator and Director of Operations Butch Fratty will work with the Parking Office on how the money is distributed and used, Brown said.

The federal government has allocated $ 37.1 million to the U.S. Rescue Plan funds as part of a larger $ 1.9 trillion aid package to help municipalities recover financially after the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Treasury has set limits on how ARP funds can be spent, banning their use to reduce taxes and bolster pension funds.

To date, the city has used more than $ 10 million of ARP money to replenish lost revenue and balance general fund budgets for 2021 and 2022, infrastructure projects to stimulate $ 300 in payments to eligible residents, grants to new businesses and local nonprofits.

The council has also heard of United NEPA’s plans regarding the wasteland at 43 Monroe Street, which it wants to buy for $ 1 from the city.

Mary Ann Velez, CEO, president and co-founder of the nonprofit, said it would be the first project under the Affordable Housing Program.

“We are not just looking for housing for Lucerne County residents. We are trying to get them out of the poor situations they are facing now, through education, training and counseling services, ”Veles said.

Applicants must participate in a life coaching program, receive counseling, vocational training, adult education and money management and remain in the program for a year after closing the home, Veles said.

The United NEPA Alliance is working with Lowe’s, Johnson College, Fortis Institute and volunteers for its housing program, Veles said.

Brown had two more issues on the agenda to be submitted to the Council at a public meeting.

The city wants to donate 17,000 3M Cool Flow 8511 N95 masks to Ukraine, Brown said. The masks were handed over to the city and cannot be used by ambulance services and staff as personal protection against COVID-19. “It’s more of a dust mask,” Brown said.

City Fire Chief Jay Delaney explained that the masks have a latex valve that expands and contracts with each breath the user takes. COVID-19 particles can get into the valve if it expands, he said.

Delaney said the masks could be used for other protection against COVID-19, but they have an expiration date.

“It’s like medicine and they are valid until June 2025. So you can’t put it in storage and they will last forever, ”Delaney said.

Brown said the city would use the same contact that helped with the donation of obsolete firefighting equipment to deliver the masks to Ukraine.

Pending the approval of the Board, the Coal Street Community Playground and associated areas will be named after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Brown said he worked with the Wilkes-Barre NAACP chief. “Hopefully, if all goes well, we will make the dedication on June 1,” Brown said. The federal holiday falls on June 19, which marks the end of slavery in the United States.

Disposal of obsolete city affairs was on the Council’s agenda.

Contact Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or Twitter @TLJerryLynott.

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