Bellevue addresses infrastructure

Bellevue Council's plans to address several major infrastructure repair projects seem to be falling into place, with two major projects and a borough-wide street paving program on the horizon.

Borough engineer Ben Gilberti reported at Tuesday's pre-council meeting that bids for this year's paving program came in some $60,000 under the estimated cost. Council voted unanimously to award the contract for the work to A. Folino Construction, which submitted the low bid of $189,182.

Council President Lynn Tennant Heffley noted that, in the past, the borough has added more streets to the paving project when the budgeted funds exceeded the bids, but Bellevue has two big-ticket repairs waiting in the wings.

The first is the West Riverview retaining wall repair, now estimated to cost some $450,000 -- nearly double the estimated cost of repair when the structure collapsed three years ago. Bellevue unsuccessfully applied for several grants for the project. Heffley said that the borough has set aside $140,000 in capital improvement funds, and will add another $128,000 to the pot from the recent bond refinancing. If bids for the project, due to be opened June 13, come in low, those funds and the $60,000 left over from the paving project budget may be enough to cover the cost.

Meanwhile, the borough is facing a similar situation on Sumner and Straw avenues, where a water main break on Sumner undermined the two streets, creating a situation that continues to get worse as time goes by. The estimated cost of the repair is $150,000, and Heffley proposed Tuesday that council take out a low-interest loan in that amount. She and director of administrative services Ron Borczyk said the project qualifies for the AIM loan program, which offers a five-year loan at 1.5 percent interest for municipal projects.

Heffley asked for council's input and a motion to authorize the application for the loan, as the AIM board meets only quarterly to approve lending, and will be meeting at the end of this month. Her proposal met with some resistance, however.

“I'm not into getting loans,” said council member Kathy Coder. “I would rather just pay for it.

Council member Tom Fodi agreed, saying that council should wait, get more information, and perhaps in a month or so figure out a way to find the money from within Bellevue's budget.

More opposition came from council member Grant Saylor. “We're jumping pretty quick into taking out a loan,” he said.

Heffley challenged the council members to identify anywhere in the budget council could pull $150,000 for a street project. She noted that council delayed addressing the West Riverview project, hoping for funding options, with the result being that “the price of West Riverview has pretty much doubled.”

If the wall repair funds come in significantly lower than expected, leaving funds available for other projects, Bellevue could decrease the amount borrowed for Sumner and Straw, but applying for the loan now at least gets the funding process in motion, Heffley said.

Borczyk noted that several other major projects are waiting to be addressed, including the erosion at West Bellevue Station that is threatening a sanitary sewer line, and a clean-up at East Bellevue Station, where the DEP is now involved in assessing the impact of illegal dumping.

Council voted 4-3 to apply for the loan. Opposed were Coder, Fodi and Saylor. Voting in favor of the motion were Heffley, Vencent Menosky, Tom Hrynda and Matt Senvisky.