Taylor officials are looking to move ahead with two projects which could revive plans to develop former coal mining lands owned by the borough.
Council voted unanimously at its Wednesday, Sept. 12 meeting to authorize preparation of a site-development plan for the Colliery property and adjacent Feltsville area by engineers PennEastern in cooperation with Kaufman Engineering. In a separate move, council also asked Borough Manager Dan Zeleniak to investigate whether a temporary bypass road running through part of the Colliery land can be retained after replacement of a nearby bridge on North Main Street is complete.
Wednesday's motion approved spending up to $5,000 on the site plan. Zeleniak explained to Go Lackawanna that total cost for the work could be as much as $20,000, and ultimately should be covered through Colliery reclamation payments due to the borough under an agreement with Alliance Sanitary Landfill. According to the pact, a total of $200,000 will be paid to the borough based on a rate of 5 cents for every ton of refuse disposed of in the landfill's Area 2A Expansion. Pending verification on the status of that cash, the borough will front the money to begin the work, Zeleniak said.
The borough owns about 200 acres in the area running southwest from Main and Oak streets. Much of that land was home to the Moffat Coal Company operations, including the towering coal breaker that was a local landmark for decades. North of that, in the area around Oak and Third streets, was Feltsville, originally an independent mining village that was condemned in the 1960s due to subsidence and related problems.
A preliminary redevelopment proposal was unveiled about six years ago, Zeleniak noted, including commercial and residential development and a landscaped town center off Main Street.
"A lot has changed in six years," he said, from the national economic downturn to additional engineering work that has given the borough a better idea about conditions beneath the property.
"I had a vision … of auditorium-sized voids down there," he said. "And we didn't find that."
Armed with this complied data, council President Kenneth Mickavicz said he hopes the plan will serve as a blueprint for actual development.
"There should be enough data to come up with a sound recommendation," he said, which would then be subject to planning and zoning review.
Zeleniak stressed that the move is intended to return the land to the tax rolls and attract jobs and development.
"The borough is not a developer," he said.
Meanwhile, council asked Zeleniak to contact state Sen. John Blake to ask about the future of the bypass road around the bridge project, which runs through part of the Colliery land.
Borough officials weren't immediately sure which agency would have jurisdiction, as the bridge is owned by Lackawanna County but the bypass was installed by PennDOT.
"That road could come in handy for Taylor Borough," Councilman Ed Derenick said.
Contacted after the meeting, Lackawanna County spokesman Joseph D'Arienzo noted Commissioner Corey O'Brien has said retaining the bypass isn't likely because the county would then have to reimburse the federal government and PennDOT for its construction, which would cost $1.03 million.