Public Hearings Planned
Harrisburg City Council last month held its final regular session of the summer, but council plans to interrupt its hiatus to hold public hearings on two police-related issues.
Council member Ausha Green, who is chair of the public safety committee, said that she planned to hold at least two hearings over the summer on the issues—a revision of the city police use-of-force policy and a proposed Citizen’s Law Enforcement Advisory Committee.
“We will continue the discussion for both Bill 8 and Resolution 51 throughout our summer hiatus in a series of public meetings,” she said.
Her comments followed a lengthy reading of messages received by City Council regarding these issues during the last virtual legislative session. Green said that council has received more than 40 public comments in all regarding the legislation.
Many comments, Green said, asked for subpoena power for the committee, currently proposed as a seven-member advisory board that would lack that power.
For example, a group of 31 city residents jointly submitted a letter to council asking that the advisory committee become a community review board with subpoena power to access internal police bureau documents and information.
“The right-to-know request serves as a good tool for seeking information as community members,” the statement said. “However, it doesn’t provide the full scope of documentation necessary to assess any wrongdoing within the police bureau. Administrative subpoena power is needed within the community review board, similar to the administrative subpoena power allowed through the tax board and zoning hearing board both of whom, as stated by [city solicitor] Mr. [Neil] Grover, hold administrative subpoena power to ensure that ethical procedures are followed.”
The city’s Environmental Advisory Council also contributed a group statement, stating that Harrisburg should demonstrate leadership on creating more equality and fairness not only on police issues, but also for food, transportation and education, especially in communities of color.
“This is time to reflect on not only the silence and inaction that has plagued this country for decades and the devastating loss of life from this inaction, but also time to reimagine our communities and call for systemic change,” said the statement.
Other statements said that the police should routinely release more information, and one asked for paths for additional police accountability if subpoena powers—if granted—ultimately were judged not to be enforceable.
“I would also like to thank community organizations that have been holding public discussion to really continue the conversation in our community, such as the Young Professionals of Color,” Green said. “And I look forward to gaining more insight from residents as we continue this discussion.”
Composting Deal Set
Harrisburg’s leaves, grass and branches are headed to Swatara Township, as the city continues a longstanding quest to find a permanent place for its compostable waste.
City Council last month voted unanimously to enter into a two-year intergovernmental cooperation agreement to use the Swatara Township Yard Waste Composting Facility.
“The city is no longer taking any of its woody waste to the incinerator, so we’re looking to make sure we’re disposing of this properly,” said council member Westburn Majors.
Since 2017, the city has tried to get approval to build its own composting facility on land owned by the Harrisburg school district, just over the city line in the Edgemont section of Susquehanna Township. However, township officials have rejected that proposal, a decision the city has appealed to the courts.
“As we are in continued litigation regarding the potential set up of our own composting facility, this hopefully will be a short-term solution as we continue to work through those issues so that the city can finally have a place to dispose of its leafy and woody waste,” Majors said.
City Solicitor Neil Grover said that the appeal could easily take more than two years to wind its way through the courts and come to a conclusion.
In the meantime, the city already has been sending its compostable waste—vegetative material like leaf waste, grass clippings and garden residue—to the facility in the Oberlin section of Swatara Township. The resolution approved last month formalizes that arrangement, Grover said.
Harrisburg will pay the township $2,945.10 per year, starting on Jan. 1. Christopher Nafe, the city’s sustainability officer, said that amount was proposed by Swatara Township, a figure, he added, that the city deemed reasonable.
Also last month, council unanimously passed a resolution entering into a reimbursement agreement with Capital Region Water to fund the installation and construction of ADA-compliant curb ramps, curb extensions and other streetscape improvements as part of CRW’s South Allison Hill Green Stormwater Infrastructure Project. Under the arrangement, the city will provide $150,000 to reimburse CRW for certain improvements it is making as part of its extensive stormwater project in South Allison Hill.
Grant for Greenhouse
Harrisburg’s Reservoir Park greenhouse is a step closer to restoration after receiving a $25,000 “Better Food, Better Access, Better Together” grant from the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.
“We have been working with a large coalition to restore the Reservoir Park greenhouse for several years now and are encouraged by the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank’s gift,” said Harrisburg Parks Foundation Secretary Zac Monnier.
The 1,500-square-foot greenhouse was built in 1929 and is part of a garden located off of Whitehall Street on the southwest side of Reservoir Park. Unused for 20 years, the greenhouse has been experiencing revitalization from the Parks Foundation and the Foundation for Enhancing Communities.
According to the city’s Sustainability Manager Christopher Nafe, the goal of the greenhouse is to provide an educational experience for visitors to learn about urban farming, gardening at home and healthy and affordable cooking and eating.
Nafe also recognizes that parts of Harrisburg are classified as food deserts and believes that the greenhouse can help provide options for residents, especially in Allison Hill.
“We are hoping to try to fill that void and act as a community resource,” he said.
The food bank hopes, with the help of this grant, that the greenhouse will inspire youth to grow their own healthy food and even encourage them to consider agricultural careers.
“This is us working with our community to end hunger in Harrisburg,” Executive Director Joe Arthur said.
This isn’t the first time funds have been donated to the greenhouse. The Whitt Family Foundation awarded the greenhouse a $25,000 grant, and the Rotary Club of Harrisburg has donated $5,000.
The group working to restore the greenhouse includes the Homegrown Harrisburg Community Gardens Network, Tri-County Community Action, Messiah University Center for Sustainability, Harrisburg Young Professionals of Color, Sustainable Human Environment, LLC and Harrisburg Urban Growers.
The team also hopes to restore the grounds surrounding the greenhouse and possibly renovate the Brownstone Building, which the greenhouse sits behind, for use as a food demonstration kitchen, according to Nafe. The total project is projected to cost around $245,000.
The working group was formed in 2018 and hopes to have the greenhouse functioning by next spring or summer. They are currently in the planning phase.
“Choose Harrisburg” Launched
Harrisburg last month announced a new program designed to promote shopping in the city.
Jamal Jones, Harrisburg’s director of business development, debuted “Choose Harrisburg,” a campaign meant to encourage people to shop small city businesses for the month of August.
“It’s a way to provide businesses with much needed support,” he said.
Participating businesses will be added to a list for the public to see, giving people options for buying local.
“Not only does it give a boost to those local businesses, but, long term, we hope it gives a boost to our local economy,” Jones said.
Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse explained that taxes from businesses in the city help fund city operations. With those revenues being lower than usual due to the COVID-19 crisis, he believes residents will feel the effects next year. Millions of dollars will be lacking for city services such as the police and fire bureaus.
“When you’re shopping local, you’re not only helping the business itself, you’re ensuring that the basic services which everybody wants and needs in the city are being able to continue well,” he said.
The city will partner with the Downtown Improvement District and the African American Chamber of Commerce.
“For those of us that get take out once a week or so, let’s resolve for the month of August to only get takeout from businesses that are based here in Harrisburg,” Papenfuse said.
People can show their participation in August by using the hashtag #choosehbg on social media.
Stormwater Fee Delayed
Capital Region Water will delay its new stormwater fee for three months, citing the coronavirus pandemic as the reason.
The CRW board voted to begin to impose the fee on Oct. 1, instead of July 1, due to the “economic hardship” resulting from the virus.
“While the delay is intended to provide temporary relief to our customers, it does not diminish Capital Region Water’s commitment to improving local water quality, the associated regulatory responsibility, or the financial cost of system stewardship,” said CRW board Chair Marc Kurowski.
CRW voted last year to begin charging its Harrisburg customers a separate stormwater fee on Jan. 1, a date later moved up to July 1 and now delayed until October.
Under the plan, most residential customers will be charged an additional $6.15 per month or $74 per year. The non-residential rate will fluctuate based on the amount of impervious surface on commercial properties.
Currently, the cost of stormwater service is included in the wastewater fee. CRW has said that customers should see a slower rise in the wastewater portion of their bill once stormwater service is separated out.
CRW plans to spend some $315 million over the next 20 years to slash the amount of wastewater that flows into Paxton Creek and the Susquehanna River during heavy rains. That plan relies heavily on building out green infrastructure to prevent stormwater from overwhelming the city’s combined stormwater/wastewater system.
“Millions of dollars of system repair and maintenance are necessary to address decades of deferred investment in both the combined and separate stormwater systems,” Kurowski said.
Home Sales Down, Prices Up
For a second straight month, residential housing sales fell but prices increased in the greater Harrisburg area.
In June, 505 homes changed hands compared to 849 in the year-ago period, though the median sales price rose to $199,900 from $190,075, according to the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors (GHAR).
In Dauphin County, 244 residential units sold versus 423 in June 2019, while the median price increased by $5,000 to $181,000, GHAR said, in its latest housing report.
Cumberland County had 236 home sales in June, a decrease from 384 in the year-ago period as the median price rose to $225,600 from $212,900, GHAR said. In Perry County, 25 houses sold, 17 fewer than in June 2019, but the median price increased to $174,900 from $169,500.
The average “days on market” for June rose slightly to 46 from 41 a year ago, GHAR said.
June’s housing data is similar to the data from May, when residential sales also fell but prices increased.
Boneshire Brew Works plans to expand into downtown Harrisburg, with a tasting room planned for the city’s SoMa neighborhood. Boneshire expects to open in the spring at 13 S. 3rd St., space that has housed the temporary Sip@SoMa tasting room since early 2019.
The Englewood, a new music, event and dining concept in Hershey, opened last month after an extensive build-out and renovation to a landmark barn at 1219 Research Blvd. The venue also will feature an on-site brewery and has extensive outdoor seating. For more information, visit www.englewoodhershey.com.
The Foundation for Enhancing Communities and United Way of the Capital Region last month announced that they had distributed another $23,750 to 10 more nonprofit organizations as part of the COVID-19 Community Response Fund. So far, the fund, designed to help support nonprofits during the pandemic crisis, has distributed $169,278 to 74 area groups.
Glitz Soap Co. will move this fall to 1 E. Main St. in Mechanicsburg to expand production and retail space, according to the Cumberland County Housing and Redevelopment Authorities. Glitz Soap opened its shop at 58 W. Main St., Mechanicsburg, in February.
Guy McIntosh last month was named executive director of the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra. Prior to his appointment, he served as the orchestra’s general manager and as director of marketing and personnel manager for several performing arts organizations throughout the mid-Atlantic region.
Pedego Harrisburg is set to cruise into Strawberry Square in September, the area’s first dealership for the nation’s largest electric bicycle company. Harrisburg resident Andrew Soisson, along with his parents, will open in 3rd Street retail space last occupied by the grocery store, Provisions.
Radish & Rye has closed its long-time stand in the Broad Street Market, moving to its new storefront at 1308 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg. Currently, the produce and grocery vendor is accepting only online orders, with curbside pickup Tuesday through Sunday. For more information, visit www.radishandryehbg.com.
Saturday Nights in the City has been extended through the end of August. Originally slated to end in early July, Harrisburg and the Downtown Improvement District extended and expanded the outdoors dining event due to its popularity among restaurateurs and patrons.
Stuart Malina will conduct the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra for at least three more years, as last month he signed a contract extension through the 2022-23 performance season. This year, Malina celebrates 20 years with the orchestra and, besides his role as conductor, often performs as a featured soloist.
Visit Hershey & Harrisburg last month launched the Brew Barons Beer Trail, which links some 20 craft breweries in the Harrisburg area via a mobile app. By downloading the app, beer fans receive information on the participating breweries, details on promotions and events and a chance to win prizes. Visit www.brewbarons.com.
Bellevue Rd., 2021: J. & J. Trach to G. Amador, $88,000
Benton St., 600: T. Griffin to W. Quezada & M. Cedeno, $78,000
Benton St., 708: Whitland Enterprises to M. Ide, $46,000
Berryhill St., 1948: M. Frater to R. Perrin & D. Rallo, $47,000
Berryhill St., 1954: M. Frater to R. Perrin & D. Rallo, $73,000
Berryhill St., 2154: E. Butler to J. Ranck, $44,300
Boas St., 1930: S. Tippitt to CR Property Group LLC, $49,600
Brookwood St., 2449: D. Tu to K. Tran & T. Doan, $60,000
Cameron St., 117 and 116 & 118 Hancock St.: Pascual Navarro Inc. to RS3 Ventures LLC, $207,000
Chestnut St. 2120: TIAA FSB to JBAB LLC, $155,500
Derry St., 2444: Federal National Mortgage Assoc. to K. Mooney, $45,000
Derry St., 2516: Wells Fargo Bank NA PHH Mortgage Corp. to D&F Realty Holdings LP, $36,500
Duke St., 2447: PA Deals LLC & Rich Steele Realty LLC to A. Graham, $76,900
Grand St., 931: K. Line to J. Greene, $55,000
Green St., 1002: A. Toth to PA Deals LLC, $72,000
Green St., 1702: M. Tramontin to J. & S. Lebron, $219,900
Green St., 1719: H. Neuhaus to The Berlin Group LLC, $100,000
Green St., 2023: J. & S. Douglas to Z. & S. Smith, $210,000
Green St., 2035: Heinly Homes LLC & W. Hoover to N. Jensen, $232,000
Hale Ave., 393: S. Garrett to F. Ramirez & J. Polanoc, $70,000
Herr St., 1020: S. Borne to D. Patel, $154,000
Holly St., 1853: R. Dunbar to C. Dunbar, $42,500
Holly St., 1911: Vision Venture Investments LLC to M. Diallo & S. Camara, $65,000
Jefferson St., 2642: D. Lopez to P. Solis Lorenzo, $30,000
Kensington St., 2233: H. Alcantara & T. Holden to J. & M. Macias, $66,500
Lenox St., 2005: T. & C. Murray to R. Bender, $87,000
Linden St., 125: S. & M. Toomey to CR Property Group LLC, $45,000
Maclay St., 645: Buonarroti Trust to AutoZone Development LLC, $500,000
Manada St., 1916: R&K Realty Group LP to J. Heikes, $75,000
Market St., 1813: W. Cameron to NA Capital Group LLC, $30,716
Mulberry St., 1915: K. & S. Ribble to JOG Investments LLC, $40,000
North St., 1851: Harrisburg Rentals LLC to J. Weber, $119,900
N. 2nd St., 906: E. Neilson to F. Burdell & W. McGee, $215,000
N. 2nd St., 933: J. Matsumoto Holdings Inc. to C. Wise, $84,200
N. 2nd St., 1839: Kirsch & Burns LLC to Trip Acres 1839 LLC, $147,500
N. 4th St., 2104: PA Community Investors LLC to Gold Key Properties LLC, $36,000
N. 5th St., 2610: S. McGowan to E. Chattah & Y. Guhl, $38,000
N. 5th St., 2723: Cama Sidra LLC Thomas Whymark IRA to B. Adzomo & J. Ekani, $68,000
N. 6th St., 2630: KBT Enterprises to L. Paulino & E. Ortega, $46,000
N. 17th St., 1000: D. Robinson to A. Augustine, $75,000
N. 19th St., 47: S&R Estates LLC to M. Trujillo, $35,000
Paxton St., 1612: D. Boyle to G. Olivo, $50,000
Radnor St., 631: J. Fernandez to CR Property Group LLC, $52,000
Radnor St., 680: E. & A. Vazquez to K&F Property Investments LLC, $35,000
Radnor St., 682: E. & A. Vazquez to K&F Property Investments LLC, $35,000
Rudy Rd., 2488: M. Rivera to N. Rivera, $60,000
Rumson Dr., 325: B. Paige to B. Matthews & T. James, $105,000
S. 22nd St., 737: D. Smith to Lindawn Partners, $51,600
S. 22nd St., 748: M. Smith to Lindawn Partners, $378,400
S. 25th St., 615: S. & B. Taylor to I. Yolov, $118,000
S. 25th St., 619: G. Olives to I. Yolov, $107,000
S. 25th St., 702: K. & N. Williams to J. Stump Jr., $124,900
S. River St., 321: J&S Home Solutions to T. Nazario, $122,000
S. Front St., 545: J. Small Jr. to G. Stansfield, $97,500
State St., 223: Harrisburg Fireman’s Relief Assoc. to 223 State St. LLC, $325,000
State St., 231, Unit 704: LUX 1 LP to LUX Rentals LLC, $130,000
Swatara St., 1915: A. De Leon to R. De Maria, $72,000
Sycamore St., 1617: CR Property Group LLC to L. Dalupang, $140,000
Walnut St., 1814: S&T Home Renovations to CR Property Group LLC, $45,000
Harrisburg property sales for June 2020, greater than $30,000. Source: Dauphin County. Data is assumed to be accurate.