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Lackawanna County Commissioners Announce Funding For Thirteen Community Re-Invest Projects

The tradition continues!!

Thirteen new projects, focusing on youth recreation, skills development, veterans and outdoor improvements, were approved for funding by the Lackawanna County Commissioners through their Community Re-Invest Program totaling $133,500.

The Community Re-Invest Program was established in July of 2013.  It represents the “last mile” funding to help bring the initiatives to fruition.  The total amount of public-private investment in all of these ventures is $1,319,393.

“I am very proud to continue this community-changing program.  It has had a historical impact on shaping a number of communities in Lackawanna County,” said Commissioner Patrick M. O’Malley.    “We provided last mile funding for initiatives that catered to youth, the disabled, veterans, historical operations, community centers, and civic groups, and we are continuing along these lines.  It is vital to give back.  I am committed to funding this vital entity as we further reshape the overall landscape of our County.  This program is a tremendous community development incentive and serves to put projects over the finish line.  It will also help to trigger additional growth in our communities.”

“Once again, we are giving back to the core of Lackawanna County – our neighborhoods.  This program makes good business sense.  We will continue this initiative in 2016 as a means of creating new economic opportunities and fulfilling the dreams of organizations up and down the valley,” explained Commissioner Jerry Notarianni.

“I have been very impressed with the projects funded by the Community Re-Invest Program.  It has served as a true partnership with for the County, our communities and civic groups.  I want to continue to assist in making a big difference in our area, and I am very proud to play a role in shaping the future,” explained Commissioner Laureen A. Cummings.

“The funding for these projects once again highlights the Commissioners’ commitment to the growth and enhancement of Lackawanna County’s communities, neighborhoods and quality of life.  The funding track record has helped to leverage new development in our cities, boroughs, townships and municipalities,” explained George Kelly, the County’s Director of Economic Development.

The projects that were approved during this round of funding include:

Applicant: Friendship House

        Project Description: Building and Grounds Improvement Project, including parking lot expansion, office renovations and restroom facilities.

        Total Project Cost: $274,628                       

       Amount from CRP Program: $12,500

 

Applicant: VFW Post #4712/Simpson

        Project Description: Grant to be used to purchase either a new or used van to transport area veterans to military ceremonies and events, appointments and social events and assist any area organization requiring transportation.

        Total Project Cost: $32,013

Amount from CRP Program: $15,000

 

Applicant: Mayfield Borough

Project Description: Renovation to both the rear and front entrances of the Borough Building to meet ADA standards.

        Total Project Cost: $20,400                                         

       Amount from CRP Program: $10,000

 

       Applicant: Old Forge Lions Little League

Project Description: Phase 2 of the project includes, but not limited to, electrical, general construction and sound system at Old Forge Lions Little League Field.

        Total Project Cost: $17,000                                         

       Amount from CRP Program: $7,000

       

       Applicant: Northeast Center for Independent Living

Project Description: Renovation of an existing building on Dickson Avenue in Scranton to construct a 7,000 square foot transitional skills center. The new center will facilitate the instruction and teaching of daily life skills to participants with physical, developmental and intellectual disabilities.

        Total Project Cost: $750,000                       

       Amount from CRP Program: $8,500

       

Applicant: Olyphant Little League

Project Description: Materials purchase and construction of an enclosed batting cage in Condella Park.

        Total Project Cost: $9,621.00

Amount from CRP Program: $5,500

 

Applicant: Marvin Dutch Gap Softball Field

Project Description: Field restoration and refreshment stand improvements.

        Total Project Cost: $38,000                                         

       Amount from CRP Program: $15,000

 

Applicant: Minooka Babe Ruth League

Project Description: Construction of a new field and the purchase of a batting cage and new fencing.

        Total Project Cost: $35,000                                         

       Amount from CRP Program: $7,500

Applicant: Green Ridge Neighborhood Association Friends of Crowley Park

Project Description: Creation of a 26 foot diameter stone Labyrinth, seeding, and planting trees and shrubs at Crowley Park.

        Total Project Cost: $43,501                                         

       Amount from CRP Program: $7,500

       

       Applicant: Fell Township

Project Description: Energy efficient garage doors to replace deteriorated doors at the Community Building. The Community Building is used as a disaster shelter and command post. It is also used for voting, township activities and the home of the Golden Age Club of Fell Township

        Total Project Cost: $15,350                                         

       Amount from CRP Program: $10,000

       

       Applicant: United Community Outreach

Project Description: Outdoor lighting project consisting of the construction of concrete footings and the purchase of electrical materials necessary to install lights around the perimeter of the Strawberry Fields softball fields in Peckville.  This area serves as a food distribution site for Lackawanna County residents. Set-up for the food distribution occurs early in the morning and can end late in the evening.

        Total Project Cost: $31,400                                         

       Amount from CRP Program: $18,000

       

       Applicant: Clarks Summit Borough

Project Description: Construction of a gazebo, landscaping and parking improvements at Clarks Summit/Abington Area Veterans Park. The park serves as a place for the community to congregate take pictures and reflect on the sacrifices of those who served the Clarks Summit community.

        Total Project Cost: $35,000                                         

       Amount from CRP Program: $10,000

       

Applicant: Christy Mathewson Teener League

Project Description: Work at the Christy Mathewson Teener League field will include improving field drainage with piping and stone, as well as installing new topsoil. Grant money will also be used to repair the fences, bleachers and dugouts.

        Total Project Cost: $17,500                                         

       Amount from CRP Program: $7,000

       

                Projects will continue to be reviewed and funded throughout 2016.  Boroughs, municipalities, townships and nonprofit entities are encouraged to submit applications for projects that are ready to start so that the Community Re-Invest Program can help to successfully complete them.      

 

Globe Store Presentations

Project Statement

This event today is an “Investment In Our Future.”

The decision regarding the purchase of the former Globe Store has been a well thought-out, analyzed and vetted venture.

This project at The Globe is not about Commissioner Patrick M. O’Malley, Commissioner Jerry Notarianni or Commissioner Laureen A. Cummings.  It is about serving the 214,000 residents of our community in a convenient one-stop shop housed under one roof in a modern facility.

Professionals from finance, real estate, architecture, engineering and economic development have worked tirelessly to help craft the details to guide the Commissioners in their decision-making process.

The reports that follow will focus on how the project will impact the County’s finances, budget, economic development opportunities, architecture, and building operating systems.

Short History of How We Came to Select the Globe for the County’s Offices

In January of 2008, we started the inventory and needs assessment of all owned and leased County’s offices and storage with the idea of consolidation.  This work was completed in October of 2008.

In 2009, the County looked at various sites in downtown Scranton where we could house County offices. We looked at:

The Connell Building

The Scranton Life Building

The Scranton Electric Building

The Boccardo/Cusick site

North Penn Savings/Steppacher sites

Rocky’s site

JC Penny Building

Fidelity Bank Administration Building

Medical Arts Building

The Adams Plaza

Penn Security Bank Building

The last three sites were for either an addition to the County Offices or for a new building.  When we put together the numbers for the addition of 158,000 sq.ft. or a new building of 250,000 sq.ft. the costs were prohibitive.  The estimates were $37,920,000 and $60,000,000 respectively. The amounts did not include acquisition or soft costs.

Then in January of 2015, we looked at a large building in Green Ridge but it needed to be renovated and needed a 100,000 sq.ft. addition.  We also looked at Bon Ton in the Steamtown Mall,  but that was problematic because the County would be sharing a roof, a parking garage, and all of the mechanical and electrical systems with the mall owner.

In July of 2015, we updated the 2008 study by verifying changes in all of the departments.  Following this update we looked at the Globe Store to see if it would fit all of the County’s needs.  With 255,000 sq.ft., it would take care of those needs.

We also did an existing conditions assessment of the Globe Store.  From the assessment and layouts of the departments in the Globe Store building, we had two cost estimates done.  The first by Becker & Frondorf and the second one for verification of the first cost estimate by the Quandel Group.

Based on the cost estimates and the other miscellaneous costs, we came to the conclusion that this property is right for the County.

Engineering Statement

I have been reviewing buildings with John Palumbo since 2011 for a County Consolidation Plan.  Of the shortlist of buildings that were identified that met the County’s space needs, from an engineering standpoint, none were as well maintained or had MEP systems comparable to the Globe Building.

We have thoroughly investigated its mechanical, plumbing and electrical components and found that they are in very good condition. Its equipment has been maintained and updated throughout the years.  The structural integrity of building is excellent and the building has a relatively new roof that is in great shape.

We completed a Building Engineering Assessment last year and discovered that the former tenant, EDM, completely renovated the building’s infrastructure in 1998, in a $15 million renovation project.  This included replacing all of the major components of the HVAC and Electrical systems.  This will be a large bonus when renovating the building because the County won’t need to replace the existing components.  We will simply be adding to the existing system and not replacing the entire system.

The HVAC system has been maintained by the same contractor that currently does routine maintenance for the County.  They are very familiar with the building and this will allow for an easy transition of the maintenance contract to keep the building operating efficiently. As part of the study, we modeled energy usage and believe the systems within the Globe Building are more efficient than most of the County’s other building systems, which will decrease overall energy consumption by the County.

As part of their renovation, the former tenant also upgraded some of the structural components of the building by reinforcing the framing.  This allowed the building’s use to be converted from Retail Space to Office Space with high density file space.

The building also has a code compliant fire sprinkler system and fire alarm system.  This is not typical for a building of this age and also adds value to the building for the additional safety measures.

After our thorough review of the Globe Building and our previous review of other buildings within the Downtown Scranton Area for the County, we believe this is the right building for the County’s consolidation plan.

Budget Impact

As Mr. Durkin’s numbers demonstrate the purchase of the Globe Store will have a positive effect on the County Budget. The savings from the elimination of leases and the ability to bill the state rent for state funded agencies will more than offset the annual debt service to acquire and renovate the building.

In addition the County will realize an estimated savings of $80,000 annually on utility costs once all of the offices are relocated.

After 25 years, the County will have a debt free asset which is owned by the taxpayers of the County.

Over the last 10 years, the County has budgeted and paid over $10,000,000 in lease payments for departments moving to the new building, which equates to approximately 9 mills in taxes.

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FINANCIAL ANALYSIS

Based upon analysis of the rents paid to lease the various locations which house offices for Lackawanna County and the additional rents we will be able to garner from agencies of the State, who will be able to reimburse the County for rent in a building with an existing mortgage, we have determined that there will be savings realized by the County if we are able to consolidate most of the County’s offices in one building.

According to our estimates, which have been verified by an independent accounting firm, the County could realize conservative annual savings of $1,156,983, while amortizing the new debt incurred to acquire and renovate the building over 25 years with annual debt service not to exceed $1,115,100.

With economic conditions being what they are, and after having had lengthy discussions with Michael Vind from Financial Solutions, the County’s Financial Advisor, I believe that the interest rate environment is optimal at this time. In addition, in as much as the County received an “A-Stable” favorable bond rating from Standard & Poors at the end of 2015, it is my considered opinion that there will be no more optimum time than right now for the County to finance the Lackawanna County Governmental Center project.

LCGC 3_Page_1Economic Considerations

The 100 block of Wyoming Avenue has long been a depressed section of our fair city, functioning as an outdoor transportation hub and a side yard for single room occupancy tenants. The vacancy at the Globe Store had contributed to the current condition.

There have been millions of dollars itemized over the years in Pennsylvania. House bills to help champion the revitalization of this important and central part of our County.  No one to date is willing to match and capitalize these dollars to help revitalize the area.

The purchase of this building provides a catalyst in extending the revitalization efforts of the Steamtown Mall and movie theater. Being an integral part of the mall will generate visitors to the County offices as well as County employees helping to patronize and strengthen the ongoing efforts there.

There have been significant discussions with multiple developers to complement and build upon this project to further help reinvigorate the central downtown area. We look forward to this new project being a keystone in the revitalization of a significant part of our central city location and our County seat.

Over the next 18 months, we will work diligently with our economic development partners and the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce to bring in additional tenants to lessen the impact of this consolidation and efficiency achieved by this move.