Carnegie officials are left with a decision that might delay a project another year after being denied grant money for parking-lot and sewer improvements.
The borough, in conjunction with the Shade Tree Commission and Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, applied to the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, or PENNVEST, in August for grant and loan money for a Green Infrastructure Project that would create two “green” parking lots.
The two lots are across from the Carnegie Coffee Co. at 132 East Main St. and near Citizens Bank at 11 West Main St. and would require improving an outdated sewer infrastructure to alleviate flooding. The current expected cost of the project is about $750,000, but that is subject to change.
PENNVEST officials responded this month and offered a $1.1 million loan to be distributed over 20 years with 1 percent interest, said Rob Harvat, KLH Engineer and the project’s manager in Carnegie.
“They felt there was room for the borough to raise sewer rates to pay for the project ourselves,” Harvat said.
Sewer rates are $12.05 per thousand gallons of water used for basic borough service, along with a $3.54 service rate per month.
“We were hoping it would come back in combination of grant and loan money. We are going to check back our calculations and see if we should have qualified for some grant assistance,” said Harvat, adding he was directed by council to review the numbers.
The project would pave, properly curb and split current sewer lines in both lots to help disperse storm runoff water to improve water absorption.
“Absorption is the key. It will allow a lot of water to stop from being runoff and slowly absorb it to prevent flooding,” said Bridget VanDorn, a member of the Shade Tree Commission.
The commission’s responsibilities include exploring grant opportunities for more trees and green space, as well as coordinating maintenance projects around the borough.
“We started three years ago with the primary focus to protect, preserve and enhance the green space and greenery in Carnegie,” she said.
Other proposed improvements include redesigning the lots to include more parking spots for those with disabilities, updating the meter system, adding rain gardens, planting new trees and retrofitting sidewalks to help the parking areas better deal with storm water.
“Our primary focus is to redo the parking lots and make them an asset to Carnegie. Add good trees, good drainage and make it a beautiful center for parking and business instead of the eyesore it is right now,” council President Pat Catena said.
Borough officials will have until mid-December to accept or reject the loan. If it is rejected, the next opportunity for officials to reapply is in February, and it would take about three months for a response.
Alex Felser is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.