OC OKs paving contract; Pathways home raises concerns

Oil City Council on Thursday approved a paving contract for this year and a three-year garbage contract.

The meeting also included a heated discussion about a Pathways group home that has located in a South Side neighborhood.

City manager Mark Schroyer said the four bids for the paving contract came “all pretty much together.”

The contract for $452,700 was awarded to the low bidder, Glenn O. Hawbaker of Grove City. The funds for the project are primarily coming from Community Development Block Grant money ($216,375) and liquid fuels funds ($215,050), with the other $21,275 coming from the city’s capital reserves for an emergency repair.

The streets slated to be paved are the length of Mylan Street, Transit Street from Mylan Street to Washington Avenue, Wayne Street from Glenview Avenue to where it becomes dirt, Filson Avenue from West First Street to around the bend, West Second Street from Central Avenue to Reed Street and Reed Street from West First Street to West Third Street.

Emergency repairs to Harriott Avenue from Spring Street toward Stout Street are also planned.

Meanwhile, Terri Felmlee, the city utilities manager, said there were two bids for the city’s garbage disposal contract that were significantly different in price.

The three-year contract totaling almost $3.3 million was awarded to Tri County Industries. Felmlee noted the contract is a little bit higher than the previous pact, and Schroyer added that an increase has been budgeted for.

Pathways group home

In other action at Thursday’s meeting, Moran Street resident Adam Bliss told council he strongly objects to a group home operated by Pathways that has opened next to his house.

A long, sometimes tense discussion ensued as Bliss also raised concerns that the value of his property would go down and that his wife and child would be endangered by the teens living in the house.

Two other neighbors, Dan Littler and Pete McIntyre, asked why they weren’t told the group home was coming into their neighborhood or what type of people would be living there. Littler and McIntyre both said they aren’t against Pathways, but there are a lot of unknowns and they needed more information.

Nate Neely, who owns Pathways, and Ian Bialo, the Pathways director of operations, responded to the questions and concerns by saying the boys living in the house are good kids who have worked jobs and attended public school.

Neely and Bialo added there would be no problems and they want to be good neighbors. Neely asked the men to give the boys a chance and get to know them.

Bliss repeatedly interrupted Neely while he was speaking to the point that police chief Dave Ragon warned him that if he interrupted again he would have to leave the meeting.

Councilman Ron Gustafson said the group home is a permissible use in that neighborhood according to city zoning laws, so a public hearing on the matter wasn’t required.

City solicitor Bob Varsek said federal housing laws don’t allow zoning changes to prohibit group homes because that is considered discrimination.

In another matter, the city’s electric bill will be going up after its energy provider, Talen Energy, declared bankruptcy.

Schroyer said he received an email this week from Talen with the bankruptcy news, resulting in Talen’s three-year contract with the city, which has about two years remaining, being null and void.

As a result, Schroyer said the city is “at the mercy of the marketplace” and will have to buy electricity directly from Penelec until it is able to secure a new contract through a broker to purchase energy at a discounted rate.

Even when the city secures a new discounted rate, Schroyer said it will still be a higher rate than what was being paid to Talen.

Schroyer also mentioned the demolition earlier this week of the Justus Park bandshell. The cement pad was also demolished to make way for a new bandshell that requires a larger cement pad.

“The new bandshell comes in a kit. It’s going to be beautiful,” Schroyer said. He noted that the new bandshell will arrive in June and be put up in time for the summer season, especially the Oil Heritage Festival.

Further stormwater management improvements to Justus park will take place in September, Schroyer added.

The city water department is making repairs to the South Side fountain and it will be open in a few weeks, Schroyer said.

Schroyer added that plans are underway for opening the municipal swimming pool in Hasson Heights, and a manager has been hired. The city is accepting applications for certified lifeguards, he said.

Jason Herman, the city water department director, said he hasn’t settled on a date for opening the pool but the second week in June is being eyed after school is out.

Council also approved a request from Dan Flaherty, the director of the Oil Region Library Association, to use the Central Avenue Plaza for a touch a truck event during the Heritage Festival and a Festival of the Book featuring local authors in August.