The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

November 16, 2013

Readers' Forum 11/16 | Incomes are stretched to the limit

JOHNSTOWN — The ongoing sewer project in Johnstown and surrounding suburbs has many residents, including myself, asking the question, “How am I ever going to pay for this enormous expense?”

Johnstown is no longer the bustling, booming steel town of the Bethlehem Steel Corp. era. No longer are there ample jobs or income for most people. Instead, it has become a town of hospitals and banks. Population has decreased significantly since the 1980s and 1990s mainly because of job loss in this area.

Many of our residents have incomes that are limited by Social Security. Their budgets cannot stand under the pressure of one more monthly payment without breaking.

No matter whether the the cost of pipe replacement from one’s property to the main is $800 or $15,000, choice between food or medication is already being made in households, never mind the sewer payment.

Set me up on a monthly payment that I can afford. How long would it take to pay this cost of $10 a month? Sweeten the pot with a fine payment or condemnation of property and what do you have? There are many vacant or condemned houses in and around the Johnstown area. Add this to the already huge problems in this area such as keeping talent, brains and employment here.

My question to city council is what will you do with all the condemned properties you will have? Who will continue to pay your salaries? The contractors will have an overwhelming amount of needless jobs to do.

Why are we, the enlightened ones, continuing to do nothing about this robbery?

Deborah L. Ford

Johnstown

Temporary capped lines lead to disaster

On Nov. 12, I had the Department of Environmental Protection file a complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency on my behalf against the city.

Here is why. On Oct. 23, I was told in council that vacant houses with no owners would be capped off and passed. As that sank in, a few days later it rained. I wondered when basement walls leak and the line is capped, where will the water go?

On Nov. 6, I tried to make that point, which didn’t go well. I spoke with an EADS engineer about this and was told the blight was not a variable in the sewage plan, it was the city’s.

This is how they decided to deal with it.

The company comes to a vacant house, the city decides whether or not to run a lateral pipe to the structure. If EADS can help it they will not disturb the old lateral. But there will be cases where thats not possible and they won’t really be capped. It will be likely covered with a fabric and some stone and backfilled.

A temporary Band-Aid until the house can be demolished. By then they will clog and take on water.

The smell will be the least of it; mold and disease is what they want to brew in the neighborhood.

Call your state representative, EPA or anyone you can to stop this before you smell the problem on your street.

Joseph Warhul

Johnstown

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