The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

December 20, 2013

Lights delaying parking garage opening

By Joe Wiercinski
Herald Staff Writer

SHARON — The newly remodeled parking garage that was supposed to open at the beginning of last month in downtown Sharon will reopen next month because of a glitch involving lights.

Electrical contractor Becdel Controls Inc., of Hubbard, is installing fixtures it received earlier this week.

“The lighting we picked was no longer available when we placed the order,” Councilman Ed Palanski said at Thursday’s city council meeting. “The delay wasn’t the contractor’s fault.”

Work that was supposed to be finished by Oct. 31 began in July. Most of the money for the $588,000 project will ultimately be coming from a state grant. It included roof and support beam repairs and replacement of parking decks throughout the five-level garage, installation of security gates, perimeter fence and a backup generator.

The 39-year-old building at Vine Avenue and Pitt Street was long overdue for an upgrade and its condition had become a safety hazard.

The city’s available funds could pay to light only the first two levels for now. Project manager HHSDR Architects/Engineers and the city scaled back the job initially bid at $1.3 million to a level the city could afford, City Manager Scott Andrejchak said when work began.

The upper levels of the garage will be closed off for now but will be ready for wiring and lights later whenever the city comes up with the money to finish the job.

When it opens in January, the garage will be available for parking on two levels between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Andrejchak said Thursday a meeting last month enabled him and representatives of local businesses to strike a workable balance between parking availability and security needs.

As for charging for parking, “that hasn’t been discussed yet in our workshop meetings,” Andrejchak said. “I think that is always a possibility. At one time, there were costs to park in the garage.”

Any decision to charge parking fees would be made by city council.

The city will submit its bills to PennDOT. The expected reimbursement of about $500,000 is likely to take about six months, Andrejchak said.

Built for $2 million in 1974, the garage with 350 spaces drew criticism from the beginning that it wasn’t needed and cost too much. City officials previously refinanced the construction bond that now is scheduled to be paid off in 2026 when the garage will be 52 years old.