Skate plaza is approved

The first of three planned construction phases that will create a skate plaza in Bellevue’s Bayne Park was approved Tuesday evening, however reluctantly by some officials.

Citizens -- including some from Sewickley and Pittsburgh -- urged Bellevue Council to move forward with the project, which had been stalled after officials discovered they had been misinformed about the cost.

Although grant funds will cover most of the $157,550 design and construction cost for Phase I, the borough will have to contribute $23,500, plus pay for any parking lot and sidewalk changes that will be needed to make the facility handicapped-accessible. That could add another $40,000 to the price tag.

The borough’s share also will need to come in the form of cash rather than in-kind labor, another piece of misinformation officials were given.

Meanwhile, the borough’s attempts to raise funds for the matching share fell woefully short, perhaps even shorter than council members have been led to believe.

A compilation of expenses and revenue for the Artober Fest event indicates that $12,740 in revenue was received, while expenses totalled $6,450. According to the borough’s calculation, that resulted in a profit of $6,289.

Council member Jane Braunlich, however, said Tuesday that the borough’s bill list included invoices not mentioned on the summary. Bellevue actually spent more than $8,000 on the event, she said, with the profit closer to $3,300.

And that does not include the cost of labor by borough employees. Director of administrative services Doug Sample said that it cost about $400 for public works employees to work the day of the event.

Of that $8,000 expenditure, Braunlich said, council approved only $334 for a street banner. Among the bills the borough is paying are $600 for an alcohol attorney, $100 for a wine professor, and more than $200 for wine.

The sale of beer netted $855, which is supposed to be revenue for the volunteer fire company.

Council member Mark Helbling defended the event, noting that the best fund-raiser in the world would be less than successful if it’s held on “the rainiest day of the year,” as was the Artober Fest.

While borough officials attempt to get an accurate report on the Artober Fest fund-raising efforts, design work will begin on the skate plaza. Council voted unanimously to award the bid for the work to Spohn Ranch, as recommended by the borough engineer.

Engineer John Rusnak said that his firm will have little to do with the design of the plaza itself, but will represent the borough on any related engineering matters. He said that officials and members of the community will have an opportunity to weigh in on the design, which will be approved by council before construction begins.

The vote to approve the Phase I contract was 6-1. Braunlich voted against the motion, stating that the money the borough would have to contribute was needed for capital improvements, including road repairs.

Council members Jim and Susan Viscusi were absent. Council president Kathy Coder participated by telephone.

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