Workshop On Firehouse Plan Set

Posted: June 28, 1987

A single portable fan in the corner of the Morton borough hall auditorium was hardly enough to cool residents and some flared tempers at a special meeting last week called to discuss plans to finance a proposed borough building and firehouse.

At the end of the two-hour special meeting, council voted to hold a workshop at 8 p.m. on July 13 to discuss "what it is we really want in the borough building and firehouse," according to council president James McCaffrey.

McCaffrey said that the workshop will be open to the public but that public comment would be limited. "This meeting was very disheartening, we didn't get anything accomplished," he said of Wednesday night's meeting.

Members of the council and the four members of the fire company's building committee are expected to meet with borough engineer H. Gilroy Damon at the workshop. Afterward, Damon will be commissioned to draw specifications for the proposed building, including suggestions made by both the council and the fire company, McCaffrey said.

"We've attacked this whole problem from the back end," said McCaffrey, referring to the eight-month tug-of-war between proponents and opponents of the project.

The question of whether to build a $300,000 firehouse and borough garage has been the subject of heated debate at almost every council meeting since August.

When former council president Phil DelVecchio, who resigned in February amid speculation that his pro-firehouse stand put him at odds with other council members and residents, showed up at Wednesday's meeting for the first time since his resignation, the room buzzed with whispers.

At one point, DelVecchio verbally sparred with Dominic DiMaio, 23, and was warned by a police officer that if he persisted he would be ejected from the meeting. After the meeting ended, DelVecchio argued with DiMaio's grandfather, council member Frank DiMaio, and two police officers separated the pair.

During the meeting, the council discussed a proposal to finance the construction project that council member Phil Kosta introduced at its June 10 meeting.

Kosta suggested that the borough take a 10-year $50,000 loan at 2 percent

from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and a short-term $200,000 variable-interest rate loan from the Delaware Valley Regional Finance Authority (DVRFA). Kosta said the loan to DVRFA would be repaid as soon as the existing firehouse building is resold. "I estimate that we can get at least $225,000 for that property," Kosta said.

In addition, he said $9,000 could be borrowed from the borough's sinking fund and $20,000 could be raised from the sale of two firetrucks, one of which is not being used.

"I think you need to know what you're involved in before you decide how to pay it off," said borough solititor Donald Pugh said, noting that the borough has not yet put the project up for bids from general contractors.

Pugh said Kosta's plan depends on rezoning the existing firehouse on Woodland Avenue (Route 420) from residential to neighborhood-commercial so it would be more attractive to potential buyers. "We don't know if we will get $225,000 for the property, nor do we know exactly what's going to be built on the new site. We need to get estimates, bids and have a firm foundation," Pugh said.

Until Kosta introduced his proposal, the council had considered borrowing $400,000 from the DVRFA as its only option.

Kosta also said a third borrowing plan might be possible. He said the borough might be eligible for a 20-year, 7.17 percent fixed-rate loan of $300,000 from the Pennsylvania Pooled Finance Authority.

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