Swearing in

Harry Funk/The Almanac

Taking the oath of office from District Judge Jesse Pettit are new Peters Township Council members, from left, Dr. Thomas Pirosko, Matt Rost, and Allison Shanafelt. Joining them are Frank Arcuri and Gary Stiegel Jr., right, who won re-election to council. Stiegel has been elected council chairman for 2022.

Peters Township Council has reaffirmed interest in a potential $500,000 grant toward the proposed aquatic center at Rolling Hills Park.

“I want it to be clear: This is not a vote approving the aquatic facility, nothing of that nature,” council member Frank Kosir Jr. said Monday prior to a unanimous vote on the measure.

In October, the township applied for the grant with the Washington County Local Share Account, which supports community and economic development through state gaming revenues. The Redevelopment Authority of the County of Washington administers the program on behalf of county commissioners, and funds are distributed through grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

Township manager Paul Lauer said members of the committee that determines grant awards suggested the reaffirmation “particularly in light of the fact that we have a new council.” At the start of Monday’s meeting, three new members were sworn in: Allison Shanafelt, Matt Rost and Dr. Thomas Pirosko.

In 2018 and 2020, Local Share grants totaling $282,000 were awarded to the Peters Creek Sanitary Authority, which covers roughly the eastern half of Peters Township, for infrastructure repairs. The determining committee also approved a $380,500 grant in 2009 toward replacement of the former railroad bridge over Bebout Road in Peters.

“They are scheduled to have very brief public presentations by municipalities later in January,” Lauer said about committee members. “Then shortly thereafter, they’ll be making decisions with regard to these grants.”

With council’s unanimous approval of the reaffirmation, letters of support are being sent to members including Jeff Kotula, longtime Washington County Chamber of Commerce president, and state Rep. Tim O’Neal, R-Washington.

Lauer also announced Monday the township has received a $631,000 Community Conservation Partnerships Program grant through the state Department of Community and Natural Resources.

In December, state Rep. Natalie Mihalek, R-Peters Township, presented council with a ceremonial $2 million check representing the amount of a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant.

Each of the three grants is contingent on a dollar-for-dollar local match, adding up to a commitment of $3.131 million from the township, and all are in the form of reimbursements for documented expenditures.

The aquatic center is budgeted at $10 million, with the township’s 2022 spending plan calling for an $8 million expenditure this year and $2 million in 2023.

In May, council rejected all bids for the center when the lowest came in at $11.482 million. Specifications since have been revised.

Meanwhile, the 2022 budget also includes $4.1 million for construction of a new Peters Township Fire Department substation on Bebout Road.

“I think the project that needs to move forward right now is the fire station. We have a design for it. We’re waiting on some permitting from outside agencies, but it’s ready to go,” Lauer said.

On Monday, council voted to authorize the prequalification of bidders for construction of the station, a process routinely used by the township. Lauer said potential bidders are provided with a series of questions “that determine whether or not the firm has experience with projects the size and scope of what it is we’re doing.”

A list of prequalified firms could be presented to council for approval as soon as Jan. 24, he said.

“If that were the case, we think we would be ready to go out for bid in late February, early March, and get construction for the entire season,” he told council, “and that it would be completed in this year.”

Regarding the aquatic center, advancing the project depends on various approvals by council, which usually had passed by 4-3 votes. Two of the supporters and one of the opponents no longer are council members.

“I think if you were moving ahead with the aquatic center, in all likelihood you would start construction next year,” Lauer said. “I just don’t think that, between all the other things that we have to manage in terms of capital projects this year, we’re in a position to manage the construction of a pool and the construction of a fire station, and all of the extra projects we’ve taken on with the American Rescue Plan money.”

According to budget documentation, other capital projects for 2022 include the second phase of site development for Rolling Hills Park, improvements to the community recreation center, repaving the Arrowhead Trail and replacing the roof on Peterswood Park’s Shelter 4.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!