Gas equipment installation, street name change on council agenda

A company from Horseheads, N.Y., may be selected by City Council Thursday to be awarded a contract to install equipment at a compressed natural gas fueling station under development at River Valley Transit headquarters on West Third Street.

Should council approve, Beavers Petroleum Co. will be paid $2 million, money obtained by River Valley Transit General Manager William E. Nichols Jr.

Nichols said he got the money when he applied for and received grants from the Federal Highway Transit Administration, state Department of Transportation and is planning to use $200,000 from fuel funds in the transit company’s budget.

As part of the project, the city Public Works Committee Tuesday gave a positive recommendation regarding approvals for PPL and UGI, electric and gas providers, respectively, regarding easement agreements with the city to have its workers be able to access the city-owned property.

Later in the day, the city Finance Committee gave a positive recommendation to council to sign the equipment and installation contract.

The project, which is to be done in three phases, began with a temporary slow-fill system installed. It is a slower system that takes several hours for city buses to fill up on.

“It is moving into the fast-fill stage,” Nichols said.

In this phase, buildings at the 1500 W. Third St. site will be modified to be made compliant and enabled to store buses and provide maintenance for the vehicles that run on the alternative fuel source, he said.

A third and final stage will be to complete the project on the western-end of the site closest to Lycoming Creek. This will be an area for a public fuel station and a little further to the west will be the relocated recycling drop-off center, Nichols said.

An earlier plan to put the recycling center closer to Elm Park has been dropped because it was not feasible to be so close to neighborhoods along West Fourth Street, Nichols said.

Chris Keiser, who specializes in landscape design and is an engineer with Larson Design Group, showed the Public Works’ Committee a map of the proposed changes. He was sensitive to any worries about lights placed obtrusively and bothering the West Fourth Street neighborhoods to the west. Keiser also agreed with pursuing whether more recycling bins can be added to the design of the drop-off site.

Other projects envisioned for the site, but dependent upon council’s approval, would be to build a salt shed that is old and broken and pave the surface area.

Council also will consider changing Wyndmere Drive to Wisteria Lane.

“It had been Wyndmere Drive since 2005,” John Grado, city engineer and city director of community and economic development, said Tuesday.

The site is north of the West End Terrace housing development in the Pennsy Heights housing development off West Fourth Street, he said. There are vacant lots that have utility power connected to them on the street and two houses that already are addressed Wisteria Lane, he added.

“The reason council has to change the name is to make it so the ordinance matches the street name,” he said.

In a separate matter council, will be asked to accept a portion of William Street, in an area where it was reconstructed during the William Street Redevelopment and Kohl’s construction projects, Grado said.

“We’re getting a tax bill on the portion and want to pull it from our tax records,” he said. “We’re asking council to accept a portion of the property and make it a public street,” he said.