Reading Redevelopment Authority Minutes 04/20/16

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MINUTES FROM THE REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING OF THE READING REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF THE CITY OF READING HELD ON 20th APRIL 2016

 

The Redevelopment Authority of the City of Reading held the regular Monthly Meeting at 815 Washington Street, Room 2-53 in the City of Reading, County of Berks, and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, on 17th day of February, 2016.

 

The meeting was called to order at 3:00 p.m. by Mr. Heinly, Chairman and on roll call, the following were present:

 

Mr. Chris Heinly Chairman

Mr. Dan Luckey Vice-Chairman

Mr. James Radwanski Member

 

Also present were:

 

Mr. Adam Mukerji, Executive Director

Mr. Dennis Witwer, Executive Assistant

Mr. Keith Money, Barley, Snyder

Mr. Frank Denbowski, City Hall Specialist

Upon roll call, Mr. Witwer declared a quorum.

 

The Minutes of last month’s meeting were reviewed as well as the Finance reports and were both approved unanimously.

 

RRA Property Updates

 

Messer’s Mukerji and Witwer advised the board that the property at 243 Washington Street had been sold to Our City Reading. The board had acquired the property back in 2013 for the purpose of selling it to OCR for the GoggleWorks II expansion for artist housing. The challenge was that the property had an inordinate number of liens that had to be paid satisfied or expunged before the RRA could convey a clear title. The property will be torn down for an emergency fire exit and access from Washington Street to the rear of the building.

 

Also sold was 17 S. Second Street. This property went to Matz Properties, LLC. This developer has rehabbed many properties in the city

20th April 2016

 

with great success. The Executive Director hopes to work with this Mr. Matz on other properties in the future.

 

There are two other properties, 1404 Fairview and 39 S. Second Street that several prospects are interesting in rehabbing.

 

The board had also learned that three of its vacant properties soon will have motion detector security cameras installed.

 

Mr. Frank Denbowski, special assistant to the mayor, said the cameras will be bulletproof, have solar panels and record everything they see.

 

Signs saying "No trash dumping, under camera surveillance," also will be installed.

 

Reading's Clean City Initiative has continued through three city administrations, Mr. Denbowski said, "But with Mayor Scott, it's a top priority."

 

Mr. Denbowski said he'd asked for funding in this year's budget to buy the cameras, which cost $6,900 each and will be rotated among a dozen city properties.

 

It is likely that the state's Department of Environmental Protection will lend two cameras to the city initiative, he added. "When the cameras start flashing like crazy, it's scary," he noted.

Mr. Luckey, said that the signs themselves will work as a deterrent. "Two of our sites are targets for illegal dumpers," said Mr. Mukerji.

"We spent $7,000 of our small budget last year to haul away piles of mattresses, box springs, auto tires and toilets."

 

Mr. Witwer said that in 2016 volunteers are expected to do $16,000 worth of labor to clean up authority properties, up from $15,000 last year.

 

Chairman Heinly noted that the cameras, "will keep people safe, and the properties we've taken to rehabilitate, clean and dissuade illegal dumping”

 

Bookbindery Apartments

 

20th April 2016

 

Mr. Mukerji told the board that all of the apartments have had the toilets change to low flush units, 80% of the waste pipes in the building have been replaced with PVC pipes. The other 20% is projected to be replaced by May.

 

He explained that the pipes in the building were totally clogged due to the build up of sludge and grime creating a very tenuous situation with the tenants because of frequent leaks and overflow.

 

Mr. Mukerji also informed the board that the water bills have been extremely high and he is trying to work with RAWA to find out how to reduce them.

Mr. Luckey stated that the meters and the readers should be tested to make sure they are functioning properly.

 

Mr. Mukerji told the board that he was contacted by Representative Tom Caltagirone back in February regarding a joint venture to develop 212

S. 8th Street (Penn Optical building) into an Aqua-ponics farm.

 

He stated that this is a project that he had been interested in for years after he saw one in Florida and was excited at the prospect. He stated that he plans to meet with Rep. Caltagirone and others to discuss the venture further.

 

Board Vacancies

 

The board discussed their concerns over two empty seats on the board.

 

Mr. Radwanski asked why Mr. Robert Campatelli hadn’t been vetted for the board yet. He stated that his application had been submitted last year and wanted to know why the Mayor hadn’t passed it on to City Council to be approved.

 

Mr. Mukerji stated that it seems that the administration has other ideas when it comes to new board members. The RRA has not been informed as to actions being taken to fill the vacancies.

 

Lastly Mr. Mukerji gave a brief update on the I.F.I.P grant for the Hotel, advising the board that the grant is now being used for reimbursement of eligible expenses as the hotel is open and functioning.

 

Mr. Luckey asked if OCR will be compensating RRA for the work they did on the grant. Mr. Mukerji said no.

 

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Executive Session

 

At this time the board entered into an executive session to discuss legal matters regarding the possible sale of the Riverview Industrial Park.

 

There being no further business to be brought before the board, Mr.

Luckey made a motion to adjourn the meeting; all members were in favor.

 

The next monthly meeting of the Reading Redevelopment Authority will be held on 16th March 2016.

 

Respectfully submitted by:

 

Executive Assistant

 

20th April 2016