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Cross pipe levee repair grant to be sent

City Council gave permission to the city administration Thursday to have a consulting firm submit a $441,000 grant to pay for repairing deficiencies of the cross pipes in the levee.

City engineer Mark Benner presented the grant proposal to four members on council, with three absent. That is a sufficient quorum, according to Councilman Randall J. Allison. Absent were Council President Jonathan Williamson, Bonnie Katz and Joel Henderson.

The hazardous mitigation is through the state Commonwealth Finance Authority and is used toward the levee recertification process, Benner said.

The cross pipes are discharge pipes running through the levee that take water and treated wastewater into the river.

The levee recertification needs to be done in order for the levee to be stronger and so that individuals don’t have to pay for flood insurance, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The grant comes with a required 15 percent match, or $13,911, which will be satisfied through the city’s $500,000 in a bond set aside for infrastructure projects, Benner said.

The levee project is coordinated by the county planning office along with the Williamsport Municipal Water and Sanitary Authority, city, South Williamsport, Old Lycoming Township and Loyalsock Township.

Penn Strategies Inc. of Harrisburg is the city’s economic development consulting firm. It will be submitting the grant on behalf of the city project, said Jason Fitzgerald, company president.

The certification process is expected to include many other repairs on the levee. The cost estimate is $16 million, if done within the next five years.

Allison noted there was plenty of behind-the-scenes activities on the part of the county and consulting officials to obtain grants and other resources regarding the levee recertification process. Some of these activities go on without much public fanfare but are integral to the project’s success, he said.

In other business, council authorized Penn Strategies Inc. to seek a $250,000 grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development for replacing an accessible playground at Memorial Park.

Jess Novinger, city recreation director, has asked for the $250,000 Greenways, Trails and Recreation grant with the Commonwealth Financing Authority, an affiliate of the department, for the playground.

The grant also has a 15 percent match requirement, Novinger said.

About $37,500 will be taken from Community Development Block Grant funds. The remaining $81,149 will be covered through natural gas impact fees and private donations, she said.

The complete renovation of the playground will enable full accessibility for all children to enjoy, she said.

The Center for Independent Living has provided a letter of support.

Council also plans to look at approving a resolution authorizing the extension of time for paving Arch Street in Newberry by a contractor from the Williamsport Municipal Water Authority.

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