Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

February News Digest

CRW Releases Infrastructure, Rate Plan

Capital Region Water last month announced plans to spend more than $315 million over the next 20 years upgrading the city’s antiquated sewer system, which will bring Harrisburg into compliance with federal guidelines and carry a cumulative 150 percent increase to water and sewer rates.

Known collectively as the City Beautiful H2O plan, the improvements come following years of deferred maintenance to Harrisburg’s centuries-old combined sewer system. CRW says the updates will reduce sewer discharge into natural waterways, enhance sewer efficiency, and improve neighborhoods through the implementation of green storm water management systems.

The improvements also will significantly raise the rate burden for city households. The draft plan includes an extensive affordability assessment that helped CRW set rate projections for the duration of the project. The analysis concluded that many CRW ratepayers have significant financial limitations that preclude aggressive rate hikes.

As a result, CRW decided to seek the lengthiest improvement schedule permitted by federal environmental agencies, giving the authority 20 years to complete the projects. Water and sewage rates are set to increase by a cumulative 150 percent over that time period.

The rate increases will be most dramatic in the next decade, with annual 10 percent hikes projected from 2019 to 2022. After reaching a 106-percent cumulative increase in 2027, rate hikes will level off to just 2 percent a year from 2027 to 2038.

CRW set rates so that an average household will not spend more than 2 percent of its annual income on water, but households earning less than the median income could face significant burdens

“It is anticipated that there will still be affordability issues for some customers within the City, with some customers experiencing wastewater and storm water costs as a percentage of income exceeding 3.0 percent,” the report says.

The draft plan is part of CRW’s response to a partial consent decree it negotiated with the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection in late 2014. Earlier that year, the EPA alleged that sewage runoff in Harrisburg violated the federal Clean Water Act and PA Clean Streams Law.

Like many old cities, Harrisburg has a combined sewer system, in which storm drains connect to the same sewer system as toilets and showers.

When it’s not raining, all the contents of the sewer system flow to a treatment plant on Cameron Street, where they are cleaned and then discharged into the Susquehanna River. But heavy rain can cause the system to overflow, sending untreated water into the river and Paxton Creek.

Under state and federal environmental laws, Harrisburg would have faced financial penalties for those runoff incidents. After a year of negotiations, the EPA agreed to spare the city financial penalties as long as CRW agreed to update its long-term plan for the city’s sewer system.

A public meeting on the proposal is slated for March 1, 6 to 8 p.m., at the Camp Curtin YMCA.

Fight Against Dogfighting

Citing concerns over animal welfare and illegal gambling, Harrisburg is asking its residents to help stop a scourge of illegal dogfighting.

City communications Director Joyce Davis announced last month that Harrisburg obtained a $20,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to launch a public information campaign about dogfighting. So far, city officials have purchased ads on Facebook that explain the warning signs of dogfighting and ways to report it to law enforcement.

Davis said that the campaign did not arise as a response to a single incident or spate of reports. Rather, it seeks to curb an on-going animal abuse problem that also enables illegal gambling.

“We want to stamp this out,” she said.

The issue of dogfighting came to the fore locally in June 2017, when Harrisburg police officers staged a raid on a dogfighting ring on S. 14th Street. Since then, the bureau has issued charges on three counts of illegal dogfighting in the past year, as well as one count of possession of dogfighting paraphernalia, according to animal control officer William Sandstrom.

If city residents suspect dogfighting, they can call 311 from within city limits to report it. Reports that result in charges are eligible for a $5,000 reward from the Humane Society of the United States.

Zembo Shrine to Sell

The historic Zembo Mosque and Shrine is set to sell after almost one year on the market.

The 65,000-square-foot property at Division and N. 3rd streets will be sold to Arkansas-based TempleLive LLC, which plans to operate the building as a meeting, gathering and performing arts venue, said city communications Director Joyce Davis.

“The goal is to make it a more culturally active space,” Davis said

TempleLive currently owns two Masonic temples similar to Zembo, one in Cleveland and one in Fort Smith, Ark. The company runs both properties as multi-purpose event spaces, according to the venues’ websites.

Mike Brown, vice president of acquisitions for Beaty Capital Group, TempleLive’s parent company, expects the sale to close at the end of March or beginning of April. He hopes the site will be operational by the fall.

Zembo went on the market in February 2017 with a $950,000 asking price. Davis could not confirm the property’s final sale price, which was reportedly reached at a special meeting on Jan. 11.

The deal includes 396 parking spaces adjacent to the building.

Since its opening, Zembo has been home to the Shriners, a fraternal organization affiliated with the Freemasons. The Shriners continue to meet there, but the group’s declining membership, coupled with the building’s high operating costs, forced them to sell the historic property.

Zembo was constructed in 1930 in a Moorish Revival architectural style. The building features interior arches, hand-painted motifs and ornate stone detailing. It houses large meeting rooms and a theater with a 2,500-seat capacity.

Youth Center Approved

The Harrisburg City Council last month approved the expansion of a teen center in North Allison Hill, which will double the facility in size.

Bethesda Mission plans to renovate an old printing plant on Herr Street adjacent to its current Youth Center, adding a full-size gymnasium, classrooms, office space and an event hall with a full-service kitchen.

The result will be a full-service community center with classes and amenities for all age groups, said Cindy Mallow, director of development at Bethesda Mission. The current youth center only serves children and teens.

“We’re hoping to involve families and expand out into the community even more,” Mallow said.

Bethesda Mission hopes to break ground on the $2.8 million project this summer and finish it by the end of 2018, Mallow said.

Bethesda Mission has operated its teen center from a former fire station at 1428 Herr St. since 1990. It purchased the former Kurzenkabe Press facility at 1424 Herr for $275,000 in 2015, according to Dauphin County property records.

The 10,000-square-foot space needs extensive renovations, Mallow said, including an overhaul of its HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems. Contractors will also raise the ceilings to accommodate the gymnasium and construct a connection between the print facility and the youth center.

Since Bethesda Mission announced its plan to renovate the printing facility back in 2015, it has raised more than $1.5 million from the community and private foundations, including $600,000 from the York-based Stabler Foundation.

The expansion will also allow the mission to double or triple the enrollment in its after-school program and summer programs for youth, Mallow said.

“There’s just a need for a place for the kids to go,” she said. “Our center gives them the opportunity to be with other kids and have a mentor.”


Grant Input Sought

Is there a nonprofit that’s doing good in your neighborhood?

That’s one of the questions that city administrators will pose at a public meeting this month, as Harrisburg begins to chart its priorities for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money over the next five years.

CDBG funds are allocated annually to organizations that help build community and stabilize neighborhoods in low- and moderate-income areas. The city received $1.9 million last year and expects the same this year, according to city communications Director Joyce Davis.

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which disburses CDBG money, requires each municipality receiving grants to have a “consolidated plan” describing its development priorities and goals.

Harrisburg’s current three-year plan is set to expire in September. Roy Christ, Harrisburg’s director of Building and Housing, said that development projects started during Mayor Eric Papenfuse’s first term require a new plan with a longer duration.

In past years, CDBG funds have supported organizations such as the Heinz-Menaker Senior Center, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Harrisburg, the Latino Hispanic American Community Center and MidPenn Legal Services.

City departments can also apply for grants. Last year, the Harrisburg Police Bureau received $90,000, which paid for a community policing van and helped launch the police cadet program.

For this planning cycle, Christ said Harrisburg hopes to target projects in “tipping point” neighborhoods.

“These are neighborhoods that need a bit of help to bounce back and become self-sustaining,” he said.

City residents can contribute input at the public meeting or through an online survey. The meeting will be held on March 5 at Jackson-Lick Tower at 5:30 p.m.

Strawberry Square Apartments

Harrisburg City Council last month gave the green light to another set of apartments inside Strawberry Square.

Council unanimously approved a land development plan submitted by Brad Jones, CEO of Harristown Enterprises, which will convert vacant office space in Strawberry Square into 13 apartment units. The project will add to the 24 apartments already inside Strawberry Square, the result of a 2016 office-to-residential conversion by Harristown.

It’s also the third project that Jones has put before council just this year, as, in January, council approved two other downtown projects proposed by Harristown: a new office building on S. 2nd Street just off Market Square and a small office-to-residential conversion at 221 N. 2nd St.

Approval came despite recent statements from some council members that they are concerned about affordable housing in the downtown district.

Earlier in the month, Jones defended his pricing structure, telling council that 15 percent of Harristown’s apartment units could be rented by someone with an annual income of just $25,000 to $40,000 a year, while another 40 percent could be afforded by someone with an average income of $60,000 a year.

Council has not proposed any plans to regulate rents in Harrisburg. In January, however, council President Wanda Williams said that she would continue to monitor housing development and advocate for affordable options.

Comp Plan Chugs Forward

The Harrisburg Planning Commission last month made plans to advance the city’s comprehensive plan towards completion, a process that could last into the summer.

City officials and business developers excoriated the plan at a meeting in January, saying it limited the discretion of private property owners. Mayor Eric Papenfuse called the document “unsalvageable” and urged the commission to reject it in favor of a plan proposed by the city.

Last month, though, commissioners hardly mentioned the planning document submitted by the city, except to ask if and when it had been published online.

“We’re moving ahead with our product,” said commissioner Vern McKissick, referring to the document that the commission developed with local architect Bret Peters and his assistants at the Harrisburg-based Office for Planning and Architecture.

The commission will host monthly workshop meetings for the next three months to incorporate public feedback and professional advice into the draft document, which is published online at They hope to reengage some of the consultants that Peters hired while drafting the plan in 2015 and 2016.

To do that, however, they’ll need to secure additional funding. They already have $10,000 allotted by City Council in the 2018 city budget, but McKissick said they will likely need more to consult with subcontractors and see the plan to completion. Commissioners will evaluate grants and other funding opportunities at a workshop later this month.

Spradley Chosen for School Board

The Harrisburg school board last month selected Tyrell Spradley, a tax consultant and former city treasurer, to serve an appointed term until 2019.

Spradley replaced Matt Krupp, a board director who resigned in January to serve as Dauphin County prothonotary.

After two rounds of voting, the board picked Spradley over three other candidates: newcomer Mariah Rodriguez and board veterans James Thompson and Kia Hansard.

In his interview before the board, Spradley touted his financial background and his two years of experience working in the district’s accounting department. He said he thinks many of the issues facing the district can be resolved, given the improved fiscal health he has seen since he worked as a district accountant.

“A lot of the issues I see are administrative issues, communication,” Spradley said. “Money isn’t a problem like it was before. We’re stronger now and have a stronger administration.”

Spradley joins the board as it braces for a number of contentious discussions, including the annual budget process and the expiration of Superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney’s contract this June. The board must decide soon whether it will renew Knight-Burney’s contract or open an application process in which she may participate.

So Noted

AAA Central Penn
last month named Jodie Daubert as its new president and CEO. In this position, Daubert will lead the nine-county club composed of 290 employees serving 11 offices. She succeeds David Meckley, who served as interim CEO. 

Brandalynn Armstrong, co-owner of Harrisburg-based Zeroday Brewing Co., has been elected to the Brewers of Pennsylvania board of directors. The trade association works to protect and promote the brewing industry in the state.

Excel Interior Concepts & Construction last month announced two new hires. Thomas Fogie joined the Lemoyne-based company as project coordinator, and Alicia Mirando came on as designer.

The Harrisburg Senators last month signed a two-year extension with the Washington Nationals, their player development agreement now extending through 2020. The Senators are the Nationals’ AA-affiliate Minor League baseball team. Separately, the Senators announced that Dan and Michael Schwab, co-presidents of Harrisburg-based D&H Distributing, along with their sister, Amy Silfen, have joined the team’s ownership group as minority owners.

S&T Bank has named Jeffrey Scoutelas as vice president, private banker for central Pennsylvania region. Scoutelas, a graduate of Lynchburg College, has 12 years of private banking and management experience in the area, said the company.

Changing Hands

Berryhill St., 2155: L. & D. Sandoe to M. Macas & C. Pulla, $55,500

Boas St., 1826: Z. Weist to S. Henry, $59,900

Brookwood St., 2448: Wilmington Savings Fund Society to HT Properties LLC, $35,500

Capital St., 907: A. Sheaf to E. Ashenfelder, $148,000

Capital St., 1200: 8219 Ventures to R. & C. Steele, $76,000

Croyden Rd., 2951: K. & M. Zinn to A. Smith, $70,000

Derry St., 1433: A. Vaughn to Aum Investments LP, $32,000

Derry St., 1901: L. Nguyen to T. Nguyen, $150,000

Derry St., 2022: M. Khatoon to A. Saeed, $30,000

Emerald St., 226: C. Shokes to HBG Rents LLC, $210,000

Forster St., 1815: Blackscotch LLC to C. Burke, $50,000

Green St., 914: P. Vanitem to C. Williams, $138,900

Green St., 1401½: C. & C. Kellar to R. & F. Armetta, $80,000

Green St., 1623: S. Vemula & M. Chada to B. Golper & J. Wu, $132,000

Green St., 3118: US Bank NA Trustee & PA Housing Finance Agency to Hawk Vesta LLC, $65,750

Hale Ave., 436: M. Davis to J. Sayed & S. Sherin, $40,000

Hanna St., 103: S. Brown to DLK Properties LLC, $63,500

Harris St., 434: Alta Reo LLC to B. Parfitt, $83,000

Herr St., 1001: Harsco Corp. to Capital Region Economic Development Corp., $505,000

Hanover St., 1312 and 1283 & 1285 S. 13th St.: Y. & C. Lee to D&F Realty Holdings LP, $50,000

Hoffman St., 3131: G. Hanslovan to O. Perry, $63,000

James St., 1315: J. Brinks & C. Wise to S., J. & N. Kindler, $95,000

Kensington St., 2101: Nationstar Mortgage LLC to HT Properties LLC, $48,500

Kensington St., 2103: PA Deals LLC to L. Myers, $65,900

Lawton St., 1416: M. Maloney to J. Foote & R. Tompkins, $429,500

Luce St., 2365: T. Nguyen & H. Truong to M. Phan, $30,000

Maclay St., 332: S. Hite & L. Ware Jr. to JTA Consulting Group LLC, $51,000

North St., 1836 & 1838: Reyart Properties to B. & R. Lomax, $72,000

N. 2nd St., 1404: Tang Liu Realty LLC to C. Albers, $121,000

N. 2nd St., 2323: M. Horgan & CR Services Inc. to A. & A. Mathew, $147,500

N. 2nd St., 3118: P. & M. Rowan to D. Inghilterra, $203,000

N. 2nd St., 3303: C. Myers to J. Myers, $90,000

N. 4th St., 2735: S. Patrick to T. & L. Lydell, $107,900

N. 6th St., 3111: R. & S. Hopkins to C. Morel, $62,000

N. 13th St., 142: J. Forsyth LLC to 37 Estate LLC, $41,000

N. Front St., 1125: D. & J. McEnany to RMK Management Group LLC, $233,000

N. Front St., 1525, Unit 301: W. Cohen to W. Krenz & P. Meehan, $135,000

N. Front St., 3029: Pumphouse Partners LP to BXF Real Estate LLC, $450,000

Penn St., 1324: D. Stridacchio to S. Olsen, $117,000

Penn St., 1715: BencMarq Holdings LLC to Fratelli Property Investments LLC, $116,000

Race St., 568: R. Hunter to E. Fultz, $157,968

Rolleston St., 1239: G. Neff to J. McCloud, $45,000

Seneca St., 330: J. Runion to M. Saldana & R. Zavala, $87,500

S. 14th St., 1418: R. Scott to City of Harrisburg, $52,000

S. 14th St., 1422: G. Neff to City of Harrisburg, $48,500

S. 14th St., 1424: C. Gamble to City of Harrisburg, $45,000

S. 14th St., 1433: Z. Owens to City of Harrisburg, $51,000

S. 14th St., 1440: G. Neff to City of Harrisburg, $51,000

S. 19th St., 850: S. & N. Fulginiti to City of Harrisburg, $60,000

S. 23rd St., 616: R. Bowers to D. & N. Gonzalez, $89,900

S. Front St., 601: A. Poindexter to R. & L. Firestone, $174,900

State St., 1504: A. Sandoval to 77 Estate LLC, $37,000

Susquehanna St., 1612: K. O’Neill & PA Housing Finance Agency to T. Weaver, $146,500

Susquehanna St., 1723: G. Neff to J. Hirt, $104,000

Valley Rd., 2308: L. & N. Eikenberry to Bean GST Trust II, $218,000

Washington St., 103: R. Bray to Q. Tran, $32,000

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