Jul 28, 2014

Planning Continues for Verona Streetscape Project

Verona's revitalization project is coming along, and lights could be installed between the summer and the fall.

Planning Continues for Verona Streetscape Project

Work to install new lights around Verona Borough could begin sometime this year—possibly in the summer or the fall months.

Members of the Verona Business District Advisory Committee—along with the Allegheny Valley North Council of Governments—have been working on plans to revitalize Verona's business district for several years, and now that the design work is complete, they're ready to start preparing bid documents for potential contractors.

The borough through the county's Community Development Block Grant program. Verona Borough must contribute an extra $21,485 in cash or in-kind services.

Mike Vento, the architecture and design chair for the VBDAC, said the committee also is waiting to hear if it received a second $150,000 grant.

Architect Richard P. Rauso designed an improvement plan for the borough's streetscape project, which includes 46 lights and landscaping along Allegheny River Boulevard; Center, South and East Railroad avenues; and James Street.

Vento said he was hoping to get moving on the project, even though officials don't know if they'll receive the second grant.

"I want to see some dirt moving with this," he said. "Our biggest hurdle is that we think we could have $300,000 in grants but we don't know."

Tom Benecki, the borough's COG representative, suggested splitting up the project into alternatives—phase one would be the boulevard, then Center and James, then South and East Railroad—within the bid specifications for contractors. Benecki said that would allow the committee to award contracts based on how much they could afford.

Bridget Seery, member of the VBDAC, said the committee also would save a significant amount of money on trees because they will be provided by TreeVitalize. TreeVitalize is a public-private partnership to help restore tree cover, educate citizens about planting trees as an act of caring for the environment, and build capacity among local governments to understand, protect and restore their urban trees, according to its website.

Seery said 17 trees—among the species are Elms, Cherry Plums and Japanese Lilacs—will be provided and planted by TreeVitalize. The Verona Chamber of Commerce also might contribute $1,300 to remove the exising trees.

"The chamber already spends $1,000 a year for tree maintanance anyway," said Kier Ewing, a chamber and VBDAC member.

Erin Deasy, a project manager with Allegheny County Economic Development, suggested members of the committee get together with the architect and engineer for the project to discuss the bid documents.

Once those documents are complete, they must be advertised for potential bidders and contractors for 21 days. Board members said they hope to be ready to advertise in March or April.


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