PITTSTON — Pittston’s makeover has been three years in the making. That will all come to an end in the next few months.
Pittston’s Streetscape Project, a $1.1 million project to fix up the downtown business district with brick crosswalks, sidewalks, LED lighting and curbs, should be mostly finished by the start of the annual Tomato Festival in mid-August, according to the Redevelopment Authority’s Mike Lombardo.
The former mayor of Pittston said there are currently three different streetscape projects going on within the city. The Main Street project is Phase 3, which has been finished up to the Columbus Statue on the west side of the street. The contractor, MultiScape, Inc. from Pittston Township, will now move to the east side of Main Street. That project is expected to be finished in late July.
Lombardo said there is a “drop dead date” for the project to have all equipment moved, and that’s the week before the festival.
“We’re ahead of schedule from a timing standpoint,” he said.
Also, Lombardo said, the state is working on making Columbus Avenue more handicap accessible.
Once the current streetscape work on Main Street is finished, the project will head south toward the fork in the road near the Sunoco. Lombardo calls this Phase 4, A and B, and will take the project near the border of the city. Next year, he said, council will seek more funds and the project will come to a complete end as the city will finish the work in front of residents’ houses extending to the border.
New look for Kennedy Bouldevard
The work on Kennedy Boulevard, which currently consists of two projects, should be finished in the next two months. This work is being done by Bower and Associates.
The sidewalk work in the area of Quinn’s Market, at Market Street and Kennedy Boulevard in front of Cooper’s Waterfront and the new condominiums, is about finished. The biggest hiccup the city has dealt with was making repair to a culvert that was damaged after the 2011 flood.
At the corner of William Street and Kennedy Boulevard, the city has always had water issues. Work is being done there to raise the ground, with the sidewalks, near the fireman’s monument. This will consist of new pillars and lighting around the monument and the gateway to the Riverfront Park.
“We think this will be a huge improvement,” Lombardo said. “Even the fencing there and us cleaning the bank will tie it all together.”
Bower and Associates donated the granite for the work around the monument.
“We’ve been pretty lucky to have some good contractors,” Lombardo said. “It’s all gone pretty smooth.”
In 2014, city council unanimously authorized a $1.1 million loan for the streetscape project. The project was approved for funding from the Pennsylvania branch of the United States Department of Agriculture. However, the loan was taken through a lending agency and once the project is complete, the USDA will reimburse the lending agencies. Then the city will enter a 40-year financing agreement with the USDA to pay off the debts.
Lombardo said nearly no money for this project is coming from the taxpayers. He said the city hasn’t raised its taxes since 2002.
“At the end of the day it makes downtown much more walkable and user-friendly,” Lombardo said. “People that like to walk at night, it gives them safe rounds, especially on the boulevard.”
City hall upgrades
Pittston City Hall, located at 35 Broad St. and built circa 1939, has also received some upgrades for the past several months.
Lombardo said the project has four different phases, and three have been completed. The first phase was an energy efficient project, which involved changing all the street lighting in the city to LED.
The second phase, which included an elevator in the building for the first time, was recently completed. In the past, the second floor of the building was not handicap accessible. Lombardo said visitors and employees of City Hall will be treated with a “fully modernized” city hall.
“I always believed it was a disgrace that city hall was (handicap) inaccessible,” he said. “You’re basically forcing someone to be in a different circumstance and that’s not acceptable.”
Phase 3 is an upgrade and conversion of all utilities and plumbing, which includes and H-VAC system. For the first time, there will be integrated central air and heat in the building.
The final phase will be an esthetic improvement to the building.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-602-0178 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick