New Harrisburg public works site approved

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Dust was flying around the city's Public Works location on S. 19th Street as crews were swiftly working to pack up and move out.

During Wednesday night's special legislative meeting, City Council unanimously agreed to adopt a plan that would allow the Public Works Department to move its location to the former Brenner Motors Dealership near 19th and Paxton streets.

However, Harrisburg has until March 23 to move.

Mayor Eric Papenfuse explained that when the Harrisburg Strong recovery plan was finalized on December 23, included in the plan was the sale of the incinerator to the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority. However, LCSWMA also purchased the property next to the trash burner, which is the current Public Works site.

“It's a large lot,” Papenfuse said.

Papenfuse said LCSWMA offered $300,000 as an incentive to the city in order to vacate the property within 90 days. If the deadline is not met, Papenfuse said the city will not get the money and could face lawsuits instead.

However, when the mayor's administration took office in early January, Papenfuse discovered little work was completed on finding a new location which could fit the city's logistical needs and budget.

Papenfuse said the vacant dealership met and exceeded the expectations.

“It's a multi-million dollar building,” he said. “It's in prime location on Paxton Street. It's actually larger than the current facility.”

The mayor said Brenner did the city a solid and agreed to allow Harrisburg to purchase a short-term lease for a price “way below” the asking price. Papenfuse said the two-year lease is about $189,000 a year with an option for a third year with a cost of living adjustment in payment.

“Everyone agreed it's a really good spot for Public Works,” he said.

If the city is out by March 23, it would gain the $300,000 offered by LCSWMA. Thus far, Papenfuse said LCSWMA has given the city $150,000 in good faith the task will be completed.

Papenfuse said the money would help pay the lease and costs of the move. Scrap metal being junked during the move could also help fund projects, according the mayor.

Papenfuse said given the city's uncertain future with its own waste collection and disposal, the short-term lease buys time and gives the city flexibility when finding a long-term solution to fit its needs. He even discussed ideas a police substation or new fire station could be added to the site in the future.

However, that could all be pipe dreams if the city does not move out on time and fails to receive the $300,000. Papenfuse is optimistic that Public Works could move out on time, barring any unforeseen event.

“I have a detailed schedule from public works on what needs to be done each and every day between now and then and we should make it,” he said.

 

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