Council Special Meeting Minutes – June 18, 2014

A special meeting of Washington City Council was held on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at 4PM in Council Chambers, 55 West Maiden Street, Washington, Pennsylvania.  Mayor Brenda Davis, presiding, opened the meeting.


Councilwoman Tracie Graham — Present

Councilman Kenneth Westcott — Present

Councilman Joseph Manning — Present

Councilman Terry Faust — Present

Mayor Brenda Davis — Present

SOLICITOR:      Jack F. Cambest, Esquire — Present



A motion was made by Councilman Westcott, seconded by Councilman Manning, and unanimously carried, to approve the minutes of the June 5, 2014 regular meeting of Washington City Council.

Mayor Brenda Davis then opened the public participation portion of the meeting.  Those signed in to speak were as follows:

  • Attorney Christopher Ponticello thanked everyone for letting him speak.  He said that he was here today to address the Validity Challenge of the applicant Phive Starr Properties, successor in interest of PA Wealth Builders, relative to the Ordinance which has been an ongoing matter.  He continued by saying, “we were here a couple of months back talking about the aspects of what was being sought by the petitioners at the time.  This Council voted on it and now this applicant is back seeking this Validity Challenge of the Ordinance.  Just here to re-state that all of the concerns, which are on record and duly noted”.  Attorney Ponticello said he would not re-state all of those that his client, Immaculate Conception Parish, its constituents and the property owner, the Bishop of Pittsburgh as trustee for Immaculate Conception Parish.  All of those concerns still very much continue this day.  It is their understanding that, at least from the information he has been able to obtain, this applicant, even though a different applicant than the original applicant, was deemed to be a successor in interest or have enough interest to continue to pursue this matter.  If that is the case the concerns still very much continue.  He asked,  “where is this process going, where are we going with this process as a community?”

He said that he wants to be sure if the Ordinance is modified that any applicant, including this applicant, would come back and re-apply to zoning to meet the new requirements as whatever the new Ordinance would require.  This is relative to parking, relative to public site setbacks.  All of those issues, to his knowledge, have not been fully addressed in a means by which other parties and neighbors can come and discuss those situations especially if now there will be another application made under some amendment which is being considered here.  So, from their understanding this is very much a bifurcated process, and they feel it certainly ought to be to give the community an opportunity to discuss those specific merits of whatever the application is.  Attorney Ponticello said they’ve raised their previous concerns relative to amending the Ordinance.  Where that can go and asking this community to consider the welfare of its citizens of this Council and certainly in areas where we have schools housing small children that we keep a control and safeguard of neighboring properties.

  • Father William Feeney said he was present to focus on the fact this Validity Challenge is one that has been tossed about and discussed at a number of meetings that he has been at.

He appreciates that you all have listened to what they have to say.  As Mr. Ponticello pointed out, Father Feeney said that they will keep as their focus the well-being of the community and the future of the people within it.  He said that this zoning issue is something that is in Mayor and Council’s hands but so is the future and well-being of all involved – the community, the people who own property, and the people who live here.  Father Feeney closed on reminding everyone that their Parish festival starts tonight and for all to attend

  • Paul Pennington of Gannett Fleming explained that he met with Mayor and Council approximately one and one-half weeks ago and discussed the time extension needed by the general contractor.  In order to move this project forward a time extension was requested by the contractor.  This was based on weather delays due to the extreme winter we had this year.  The contractor asked for 37 days to be added to the contract.  Paul said that they did their own weather analysis and their analysis showed that out of the 37 days the contractor was requesting … 34 were valid.  There were days during that period of November 2013 through March 2014 that routinely the temperatures dropped below zero at night and single digits during the day.  A lot of his critical path work, which is weather/temperature driven, was impacted.  The contractor accepted the 34 days and this comes with a cost because the contract will be extended for that time.  The contractor has indirect costs to build this facility which includes restroom facilities, temporary power, lighting, dumpsters, internet, and office trailers.  All of this is considered to be site conditions. The contractor sent us a proposal for $566.00 per day which comes to $21,252.00 which Paul reviewed and said these charges were legitimate.  This will extend the contract through July 25th.  The contractor originally asked for 117 day extension.  Paul asked for Mayor and Council’s vote to approve this Change Order GC9A.

COMMENT:  Councilman Faust asked if Astorino is in agreement with this?

Paul answered that Astorino is in favor of this.

There being no further public participation, Mayor Davis closed this portion of the meeting.

A motion was made by Councilman Manning, seconded by Councilwoman Graham and carried, to approve Validity Challenge of Phive Starr Properties, LP, successor in interest of PA Wealth Builders, LLC to the City of Washington Zoning Ordinance.  Applicant is the owner of the property located at 130 N. Franklin Street.


Councilwoman Tracie Graham — No

Councilman Kenneth Westcott — Yes

Councilman Joseph Manning — Yes

Councilman Terry Faust — No

Mayor Brenda Davis – No

A motion was made by Councilman Westcott, seconded by Councilman Manning, and unanimously carried, to approve payment to Tedesco Excavating and Paving Inc. in the amount of $4,698.00   CHARGE 77.00/426-610 (Capital Improvement Fund – Recycling Pad Construction Cost)

COMMENT:  Councilman Westcott said that he was out past there yesterday and it is looking very good.

Councilman Faust agreed and said what a great company to work with.

A motion was made by Councilman Manning, seconded by Councilman Westcott, and carried, to approve entering into a formal payment in lieu of taxes (P.I.L.O.T.)  Agreement with Washington Health Care System as presented to Mayor and Council in Executive Session on June 2, 2014 – upon review and approval of the Solicitor.

COMMENT:  Councilman Faust said, “with no disrespect to his colleagues or to Councilman Manning, he can not vote in favor, though he does support the income, until he receives the agreement and reviews it.”  He is concerned that if legislation changes the City would not be able to dissolve the agreement if it benefited the City, and then not to tie future administrations to the agreement.  I said this last week and I am saying it again this week.  At this time no agreement has been submitted for his or Mayor and Council’s review.  What does upon the review and approval of the Solicitor have to do with this at this time?  I suggested that Mayor and Council would review the agreement once received and then ask our Solicitor for his input.  Obligating the future administration to binding agreement for 10 years would not be right in his opinion. Councilman Faust said that he does not know anyone having a 10-year agreement on anything other than your house.   Why would an agreement even be necessary if the Washington Health Care System would want to contribute to the City?  Just contribute!  God Bless them.  If we would talk about negotiations, he has not seen anything provided that we had asked for the City.  So maybe negotiations take on a new meaning or definition.  Councilman Faust said that he would do anything he can to help the City. Councilman Faust told Mayor Davis that he would like to reserve a final comment.

Councilman Westcott said, out of respect for Councilman Faust’s concerns, he asked our Solicitor if we took action today would this tie our hands to the hospital?

Solicitor John Cambest said if we enter into a 10-year agreement, and he received the agreement yesterday afternoon, there is standard form language for a PILOT agreement.  There is language in there when legislation changes, and it goes retroactively, then the hospital has the right to be credited for what they paid in the PILOT.  So, if they paid $5.00 in the PILOT for a year, and because of the legislation change, they would owe $10.00  — you would have to credit them that $5.00 for the $10.00 —  you do get the benefit of getting additional money absent of that they already paid.

Councilman Westcott said that he understood.


Councilwoman Tracie Graham – Abstained due to her employment with Washington Health Care System.

Councilman Kenneth Westcott – Yes

Councilman Joseph Manning – Yes

Councilman Terry Faust – No

Mayor Brenda Davis – Yes

Councilman Faust asked that the next motion by separated into A and B.

A motion was made by Councilman Manning, seconded by Councilwoman Graham, and unanimously carried, to approve the Transit transfer $14,212 from the Mass Transit Account (CHARGE 28.00/447-310) to the Buses & Equipment Account (27.00/447-243) to cover the state matching portion of approved June construction payments.

A motion was made by Councilman Manning, seconded by Councilwoman Graham, and unanimously carried, to approve Waller Corporation change order GC-009A for an inclement weather contract extension for construction services for the ITF at 50 E. Chestnut St., for 33 days in the amount of $21,252.00 which extends the contract to July 25, 2014.

COMMENT:  Councilman Westcott directed his question to Paul Pennington.  In regards to contingency funds – obviously we are

adding $21,000.00 to the change orders we already have.  He said he is sure that more change orders are coming.  Where are we


Paul Pennington said that he thought the contingency fund for this contract is 10 or 15 percent.  He does not have access to this

exact information.

Robin Gostic stated that the contingency is at $300,000 and all the approved change orders were at $80,000.00

Councilman Westcott repeated again what Robin had said.  He thanked her for this information.

A motion was made by Councilman Westcott, seconded by Councilman Faust, and unanimously carried, to approve to commit LSA Funds in the amount of $41,082.00 as matching funds for the DCED Multi Modal Transportation Grant – Dunn Avenue Sidewalk Project.

A motion was made by Councilman Westcott, seconded by Mayor Davis, and unanimously carried, to approve Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) for payment to El Grande Industries Inc. in the amount of $16,500.00 to restore parking surface at Pinto Field from Catfish Creek Fund (66.00/446-610).  This was previously approved under (66.00/100-000) incorrectly.


Councilwoman Tracie Graham – No Comment

Councilman Kenneth Westcott commented about the churches that were doing work in the Highland Ridge.  Fred Fleet is cracking the whip.  The kids that are helping were out again today and they are doing a tremendous job.  Hopefully, Fred started this Mending Fences Program and will continue it on to other areas of our City.

Councilman Joseph Manning – No Comment

Councilman Terry Faust – No Comment

Mayor Brenda Davis said that she has something very exciting to discuss and there is nothing negative about it.  Mayor Davis welcomed Becky Keck, Wash Arts Director, who is here to help us celebrate.  Wash Arts received a Grant from Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation for a really great partnership. The Washington Community Arts and Cultural Center, well known as Wash Arts, has just received a grant in the amount of $175,000 to partner with the City of Washington for an initiative to restore and beautify public spaces throughout the City. The project, which will involve developing and renovating a public space site into a Parklette in downtown Washington, will be a collaboration with other partners as well including: Western Area Career and Technology Center (WACTC), Southwest Training Services, Inc. (SWTS), Highland Ridge Community Development Corporation and Bricolage Production Company.

The City has long been storing the scrap metal and signage that will be re-purposed to create works of art. The Highland Ridge CDC will take this opportunity into the neighborhoods throughout Washington where youth are in need of training, both in the arts and advanced manufacturing areas.  It has always been my belief and goal as Mayor is to always work towards the betterment of the lives of our residents and our entire community.  This grant will be used to make our City a leader in the Fight Against Blight as well as bringing culture into the community. This is a great partnership!  The youth will be generating the art that will be displayed in the Parklette.  We are going to have a groundbreaking or a press release next Wednesday at 10AM and it will be on the site.  The site is located at the corner of Shaffer Avenue and Wheeling Street.  It is the vacant lot, the concrete lot that you all have been used to seeing.  It has been that way for about 20 years.  So this is a great initiative and is very exciting.  We will have the plans of what will be entailed at the Parklette.  Mayor Davis told everyone that if they would like to see the plans to please come to the groundbreaking on Wednesday, June 25th, at 10AM.  Mayor Davis commended the folks at the Highland Ridge for their Mending Fences Program.  The three churches that are up there are the Washington Alliance, Church of the Covenant, and The Life Church.  They have been phenomenal.  The kids have been working hard.  They had dirt and probably poison ivy all over them.  It is a great thing seeing, block by block, our community starting to look a bit better.  Last week the Grove Avenue Church was demolished.  This has been a sore eye in that neighborhood for many, many years.  This administration had set the money aside to get this church demolished.  There will more demolitions occurring throughout the City.

The Washington City Building will be closed on Friday, July 4, 2014 in observance of Independence Day holiday.  Regular office hours will resume on Monday, July 7, 2014 at 8:30AM.

The next regular meeting of Washington City Council will be held on Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 7PM in Council Chambers.  The Agenda Meeting will be held on Monday, July 7, 2014 at 6PM, also in Council Chambers.

A motion was made by Councilman Westcott, seconded by Councilman Manning, and unanimously carried, to adjourn the meeting.


Brenda Davis, Mayor



Christy S. Thomas, City Clerk