By Sandy Scarmack
Herald Staff Writer
MERCER COUNTY —
Though he said he’s still not totally convinced the deal is completely ready to go, Mercer County Commissioner Brian Beader voted in favor of donating a 12-acre parcel of county-owned land to the Neshannock Creek Watershed Joint Municipal Authority.
Two weeks ago, Beader refused to second a motion by Commissioner Matt McConnell authorizing the transfer, stalling a deal to make the land available for the construction of a sewage-treatment plant at the Interstate 80 and U.S. Route 19 intersection. Thursday’s unanimous vote moves the project forward with construction set to begin in 2015 and be completed in 2016.
The 10-year veteran Democratic commissioner said several weeks ago he was considering resigning because his work as an electrician turned into a full-time job that has taken him out of the county and often out of the state. He said at that time he wouldn’t resign until he was certain the plans to bring sewer facilities to the interchange, often referred to as “the gravel pit”, couldn’t be undone.
Commissioners also approved a 17-month agreement with Three Rivers Aggregate, the company that processes gravel at that location. Terms call for the company to pay the county $8,000 for the use of the land for January through April of this year and $4,000 a month going forward. The lease allows the company to process gravel, but forbids any mining activity.
Beader was instrumental in purchasing the land years ago, hoping to attract economic development to the location. The lack of sewers and other utilities at the site is a deterrent to companies looking to build, according to Commissioner Chairman John Lechner. He and Beader have both said they are hopeful that the location they consider “prime” because of its proximity to the interstates will be much more marketable with more infrastructure.
“I’m still not convinced it’s totally ready. I think there are still details to be worked out. But I voted in favor because I’ve had discussions with the engineer on the project, and he satisfied my questions about issues we might have with the DEP and rights-of-way. It’s not a done deal yet,” Beader said.
As far as his resignation, Beader, who participated in the meeting via telephone, said “nothing has changed.”
“I said all along I want to stick around long enough to see this sewer thing through. I also said I wanted to stay around to be sure there was a fully seated board through the primary election, “he added.
“I’ve been hired on permanently by this company, but my assignment is temporary. I could be back in the area very soon,” he said.