Refinancing on council agenda

City Council will consider whether to float a $20 million bond Thursday to pay for completion of the Reach Road improvements, reconstruction of 25 streets, additional parking facilities and upgrades to Bowman Field.

“If we take out the bond we will have the same $100,000 debt service that the city has now,” said Mayor Gabriel J. Campana Wednesday.

The plan, he said, is to ask the council to authorize the borrowing of $2 million to pay for several capital improvements.

River Valley Transit general manager William E. Nichols Jr., who also is city finance director, will ask council to authorize the transit authority to borrow $6 million – $4.5 million of which will go toward building a new parking deck to replace Mid-Town deck at West Third and Laurel streets.

Part of the plan to pay for the $100,000 city debt service on the borrowing package is to collect $30,000 a year for five years from the Susquehanna Bank that will have naming rights to the Bowman Field in 2014, he said.

Other investments from the $2 million borrowing include $1.1 million to finish Reach Road in the city industrial park and $225,000 for the bureau of fire parking lot that is “caving in,” according to Campana.

Of the transit projects to be funded are new salt shed and a compressed natural gas street sweeper.

Among the investments sparking debate is what improvements are to be made at the 87-year-old Bowman Field, a city-owned ballpark and home to the Williamsport Crosscutters baseball team.

“It’s our gem, our community ballpark, but I believe it’s under-used and can be used for family-oriented events,” Campana said.

Campana said he wants to see no more than $350,000 put into the park.

“To do all of what needs to be done would require more than $500,000,” he said.

In order to make the Crosscutters and the stadium more competitive, Campana and the Crosscutters’ management said they favor creation of a common area along the right-field line for events, band concerts and concession.

However, Campana said before the meeting that he heard dissent from some members of council who came to him privately.

“I’m flexible and would consider the work at the park to be limited to repairing the box seats and concrete base and cosmetic needs, such as painting the grandstands and improving the outer fence,” he said. “This is the city’s property. The Crosscutters are an asset, but they are a tenant. The mayor and council make a decision where any city dollars are going to be used.”