The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

September 11, 2013

New phone system will save city $43G per year

Frank Sojak
fsojak@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — Johnstown City Council on Wednesday learned from its finance director that the city is on the right financial path, heard from a developer who wants to build affordable senior housing in Moxham and took a step toward  revitalizing Cambria City.

Finance Director Carlos Gunby told council that the city will save $43,000 a year in telephone service by replacing a piecemeal system that included more lines than were needed with a streamlined system.

Gunby also talked about a plan to turn the site of the former Washington Street Garage into a city parking lot with 80 spots.

He said the cost to pave and equip the lot would be about $250,000, but that the lot should earn enough money to pay for itself in about three years.

After that, the profit could go toward repaying parking department debt owed to the general fund, he said.

Gunby said the city’s finances are holding steady with revenues arriving as expected.

Council was appreciative of Gunby’s efforts.

“This is a good year,” Councilwoman Marie Mock said. “Carlos is doing a good job.”

John Verbanec, a Pittsburgh developer, told council about his Summa Development’s plans to buy the former Cypress school property from the city and build a $5 million to $6 million 50-unit complex.

“This is something we have been trying to do for years,” said Mayor Thomas Trigona after listening to the developer’s plans that will help to revitalize the city.

Trigona said council and Verbanec will meet again soon to further discuss building on the empty property.

Council agreed to accept a $10,000 grant from the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies for the development of a revitalization plan for Cambria City.

Renee Daly, director of the city’s community and economic development, said that a couple of years ago residents and businesses met with the city to discuss the future of that neighborhood.

Daly said those suggestions now will be developed into a plan with the grant, a $25,000 state grant, and another, yet to be obtained, local grant paying for the plan.

City Manager Kristen Denne said Johnstown Detective Thomas Owens is to be commended for the dedication it took to obtain an armored vehicle for the Special Emergency Response Team in Cambria County.

Owens spent much of his own time working to obtain the vehicle at no cost to the city or county, she said.

A photograph of the vehicle appeared in Wednesday’s edition of The Tribune-Democrat.

Council also approved the transfer of a liquor license from the former Chillie’s Pub in Dale to Joe’s Place, 668 Main St. in downtown Johnstown.