Williamsport government looks ahead to major projects

City officials are eager to get projects such as Grafius Run flood control, the levee and street reconstruction done after reviewing the six-year capital projects budget.

Council’s finance committee listened to the capital projects proposed by the administration during the meeting held remotely by Zoom technology.

Joseph Pawlak, interim city finance director, said the capital projects budget runs from June 30, 2021 through June 30, 2026. He noted the first two years will allow council to look at those projects that are more firmly in place with final four years being more of a wish list of what is planned but not ready for funding to be secured.

Among the outlying year projects was a proposed $15 million public safety building, a joint enterprise to be used partly by the city and Lycoming County officials, such as the coroner.

Under public services, the budget proposed is $1.9 million, and includes street improvements, rehabilitation of streets, curb ramps, the connection of the Susquehanna River Walk to portions of Newberry, planting street trees and maintaining brick streets.

Funding for these projects comes from liquid fuels tax on gasoline, Community Development Block grants and the general fund.

Another large project on the near horizon is a storm sewer upgrade, including which includes the federal mandate known as the Chesapeake Bay Pollution Reduction Plan, Pawlak said. The funding estimated for the projects in the first year is $1.69 million and in the second year, $225,000, he said.

The Williamsport Sanitary Authority continues to work with the city on the potential of a storm water authority.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has a multi-million potential flood-mitigation project eyed for Grafius Run.

There has been no notification on the status of the project at this time, he said.

Another flood control cost for the city to anticipate is about $6 million in pump station repair. The first year is expected to cost $2.6 million and the second $3.4 million, he said.

The pump stations control when there is flood conditions of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. The project includes drainage structure repairs, Pawlak said. It includes continued work on recertification of the levee, he said, such as relief wells, cross pipes and I and T walls, he said.

At this point, Councilman Bonnie Katz said she was hesitant about losing any potential funding or grants that former city economic development consultant Penn Strategies was able to assist the city in obtaining from the state and federal governments.

Among what city officials considered to be wasteful projects that were included in prior capital projects was a $2 million-plus skywalk connecting pedestrians between Trade and Transit Centres and the Third Street parking garage.

The capital projects budget will have its first reading tonight at council and a second in two weeks, Councilman Adam Yoder said.

Council typically narrows down projects it believes the administration should prioritize and seeking funding before the final reading, Councilwoman Liz Miele said.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)