First Posted: 5/21/2014

Harveys Lake Borough Council voted 5-1 in favor of placing an offer to purchase the Old Villa Roma building (located at the entrance to the lake) for the purpose of turning the long-time vacant building into one that would house the police station and borough offices.

Council President Michell’e Boice was the only council member to vote no to the proposal, during the post council meeting executive session. Councilwoman Amy Williams was absent from the voting.

“While I had voted yes to ‘explore the option’ to purchase the Villa Roma for a police station and borough offices, I did not feel we had ample time to do the necessary research before being pressured by the seller’s Realtor to place our offer since they had another offer on the table,” Boice said. “I would have liked to have an estimate of costs to renovate this to take it from a restaurant/bar to borough offices and police station. I thought we should have had an idea of maintenance costs, including the cost of heating this large, older building. I simply was not comfortable with placing an offer under pressure and without more cost analysis.”

Boice also stated she had inquired as to the status of the borough’s LSA grant, which was approved for the purpose of making renovations to the police station. She added that the Commerce of Economic Development has stated the grant can be used at the new location if the plan becomes a reality. The grant can also be extended until June 2015.

Former Zoning Committee member, CEO of Earth Conservancy and longtime Harveys Lake resident Mike Dziak spoke out against the prosed purchase saying that since the “property has been dormant for over a decade” there are great concerns that it would “meet the requirements.” Dziak also questioned the amount of money needed to put into fees such as engineering costs.

Resident Kevin Carty thinks the potential purchase is a good investment, saying, “it would improve the town tremendously.” Carty added that “the present building is useless” and would be a “showcase situation” to have all official offices in one building.

Still another resident, Rob Weaver, feels the borough should either leave the police station and offices where they are, consider a modular construction plan or bring in a design specialist for renovations. Weaver questioned the Villa Roma site’s age, saying that the structure is “over 70 years old” and what will happen to it in 10 years?

The borough has hired three summer employees at minimum wage. Mac Foggarty, Chad Grzesnikowski, and Nick Radel will be employed by the borough from June 10 to Aug. 22.

The Fish and Boat Commission is looking for volunteers to put in plants and the location of the Floating Wetland Islands during the week of June 2-5. For more information, call the borough office at 570-639-2113.

Councilman Daniel Blaine, of the finance department, stated that currently the “budget is on track.” Blaine also said that with the new strategies to save energy costs council has recently put into place, the borough’s electric bill has been “significantly lowered.”

Councilman Bill Hilburt reminded all residents to “pay close attention” to walkers, joggers and bikers now that the warmer weather has begun. Hilburt also announced the new police cruiser (Ford Explorer) is on the road, bringing the total number of the borough’s police vehicles to three.

Judi Williams-Spagnuolo said that while driving her vehicle, she has had a couple of extremely close calls with bikers ignoring stop signs and not obeying traffic laws. She added that bikers need to follow the same rules as other vehicles on the road.

The next council meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. on June 17.

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