Council approves riverwalk overlook

The Warren Riverwalk Overlook project received final approval from city council by a narrow margin on Monday.

The project features a covered, cantilevered nature watching platform that will be located across the 400 block of Pennsylvania Avenue from Gen. Joseph Warren Park. Concrete will also be poured to tie the platform to the existing sidewalk.

The concern, among the three council members who voted against the measure, was the cost.

The project had already been bid last year. The low bid was $225,000.

This time, the bid was $169,945.

The most recent bid exceeded the estimated cost by about $50,000, according to Director of Public Works Mike Holtz.

Looking at an artist’s rendering of the shelter, Council Member John Lewis said, “I can’t see $170,000 in this picture. It seems like the structure is very expensive.”

“Some of the feedback that I got was, ‘a waste of taxpayer money,'” Mayor Maurice Cashman said.

Both said they have never seen anyone using the similar eagle watch platform at Kinzua Dam, which was designed by the same company, except during the annual eagle watch event.

The city is not on the hook for $170,000.

With grant dollars from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), local contributions, the hit to the general fund will be less than $15,000, Holtz said.

“We had some local individuals and foundations that stepped up quickly so that we could hold the price and still have the project done quickly,” City Manager Nancy Freenock said.

Cashman suggested the local dollars could be put to some other, better, use.

“It’s not something everybody uses, but it’s an attractive addition,” Council Member Greg Fraser said. “I think we have an opportunity to enhance the city at a nominal cost.”

Lewis, Cashman, and Council Member Richard Kolcharno voted against the overlook project.

The project will start in a few weeks and may be complete 60 days after that, Holtz said.

Grant application

The city will apply for a grant through DCNR to rehabilitate the trail through Crescent Park from Hickory Street Bridge all the way to the Warren General Hospital Cancer Center. The project will feature lighting, a restroom, off-street parking, and a “healing garden.”

The estimated cost is $330,000. The grant would require a 50 percent local match, Holtz said.

Board of Health

Council approved five initial members, a full contingent, to the new board of health: Damion Wise, five years; Melissa Zydonik, four years; Bob Raible, three years; Paul Boger, two years; and Mark Woody, one year.

Venue change

Council will meet in the Transit Authority board room, second floor of the Transit Authority of Warren County building, 42 Clark St., in May, June, and possibly beyond, as the council chamber at the municipal building will be under renovations.