Jun 13, 2023
Freeland stormwater project largest infrastructure investment in two decades
FREELAND — A two-phase stormwater improvement project costing nearly $2.5 million is scheduled to start Sept. 5 and it’s the borough’s largest infrastructure investment in two decades. The project
FREELAND — A two-phase stormwater improvement project costing nearly $2.5 million is scheduled to start Sept. 5 and it’s the borough’s largest infrastructure investment in two decades.
The project includes installation of new inlets, drains, pipes, curbing and milling and paving affected roadways.
“The borough felt that it was prudent to address stormwater management prior to investing large sums to resurface streets,” Freeland Borough Council President Matt Krone said.
Phase 1 involves improvements to Centre Street between North Street and Schwabe Street, Washington Street between North Street and Schwabe Street, Ridge Street between North Street and Walnut Street, and Washington Street from Front Street to the borough/Foster Twp. line.
Phase 2 involves improvements to Alvin Street between Oak Street and Birkbeck Street, Schwabe Street between Birkbeck Street and Ridge Street, North Street between Ridge Street and Centre Street, North Street between Washington Street and Pine Street, and Yale Street between North Street and Schwabe Street (curbing installation only). No start date has been set for the second phase.
“Centre, Washington, Ridge, Alvin and Schwabe streets are some of the longest streets in the borough and have higher than average traffic,” Krone said. “Other streets throughout the borough were considered, and hopefully, future administrations will have the opportunity to obtain financing to perform similar projects.”
Some residents are happy to hear about the project.
“I’m hoping we get the curbing and I’m hoping the curbing isn’t the end,” Yale Street resident Steve Lizbinski said. “The water comes streaming down here like a river and we are hoping that gets resolved too with the drainage and also the paving.”
Jose Maysonet, who lives at 1103 Centre Street, has experienced issues with water running onto his property.
“Heavy rain, it goes right into my basement and I’ve been dealing with that for years now,” he said. “Every time it rains I always get some.”
M&J Excavation Inc. of Bloomsburg was awarded the contract for both phases of the project at cost of $2.4 million. Phase 1 costs $1,080,227 and work must be completed by June 30, 2024. The cost of phase 2 is $1,387,156.
The majority of the project is funded by a $2 million American Rescue Plan Act grant from Luzerne County.
Additional funds will be drawn from the borough’s remaining $240,000 ARPA funds and a stormwater account that holds $228,000.
Council is actively pursuing an additional grant and/or low-interest loan for the remaining balance, but existing stormwater billing rates are not expected to increase to repay a loan.
“We are extremely confident that we will be able to complete this large-scale project without increasing debt or costs to residents,” Krone said.
A potential phase three of the project includes additional streets that have been identified but funding sources haven’t.
“With this work extending into 2024 this is all we have in play right now,” Krone said.
Crews will work 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Borough officials will notify residents of street closings and will work to keep overnight parking on one side of the street available.
Residents currently pay $13.50 per month and commercial properties pay $18.16 per month.
Krone said the borough utilizes its stormwater fund to make payments of $8,351 per month against two existing low-interest loans with PennVEST.
The balance of the account goes toward ongoing maintenance of the existing infrastructure.
“In 2021, an additional loan was satisfied and borough council debated reducing the fee, but ultimately elected to keep the price unchanged in order to accumulate a positive fund balance,” Krone said. “Those monies will now be contributed to funding the nearly $3 million in work that the borough will have completed in late 2023 and 2024.
“In the past two years, the borough had contractors perform repairs and stabilization of four storm drains/inlets and also replaced 80 feet of damaged galvanized pipe on Alvin Street adjacent to the Freeland Elementary/Middle School playground.
“So while the existing loans from the ‘90s/2000s will be repaid in the coming years, the ongoing maintenance costs (thousands of dollars per occurrence) will remain, and so there is an argument for the stormwater bill to remain in place, even if at a reduced rate.”
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