Williams Wins Mayoral Primary
Harrisburg soon will have a new mayor, as City Council President Wanda Williams narrowly defeated the two-term incumbent for the Democratic nomination last month.
With all 28 precincts reporting, Williams won by just 56 votes, capturing 1,776 votes compared to Mayor Eric Papenfuse’s 1,720 votes.
Two other challengers also ran strong. Businessman Dave Schankweiler won 1,329 votes, and former City Council member Otto Banks took 1,237. The fifth candidate, Kevyn Knox, won 66.
“To the residents of this city, this is their victory,” Williams said after the final votes came in.
Williams, a longtime council member, pledged to work closely with council, which often has had a contentious relationship with Harrisburg’s mayors, as well as on behalf of city residents.
“It’s just a wonderful feeling knowing that I now have the responsibility to make decisions for the residents,” she said.
After the final results came in, Papenfuse called to congratulate her and promised a “smooth and seamless transition.”
To become mayor, Williams still needs to win the general election race in November. On the Republican side, city resident Timothy Rowbottom won that party’s nomination running unopposed and tallying 367 votes.
Harrisburg is overwhelmingly Democratic in party registration, so Williams will go into the general election in a comparatively strong position.
For City Council, Harrisburg voters nominated Democratic incumbents Ausha Green and Shamaine Daniels, as well as challengers Ralph Rodriguez and Jocelyn Rawls. The four candidates will almost certainly win four-year council seats in the November general election, as no one competed for the Republican nomination.
Harrisburg also had a competitive primary race for school board director.
In that race, Democratic incumbents Danielle Robinson and Brian Carter were the top vote-getters for four, four-year seats, followed by challengers Roslyn Copeland and Jaime Johnsen. On the Republican side, Ezra Match ran unopposed, so will appear on the November ballot. He had cross-filed for both parties, but failed to get the Democratic nod.
Terricia Radcliff captured the Democratic nomination for the only two-year seat on the board, running unopposed. No Republicans ran in that race.
Harrisburg’s city controller position was also on the ballot. In that race, Democratic incumbent Charlie DeBrunner ran unopposed and faces no Republican opposition in the November election.
School Tax Rate Steady
Harrisburg School District Receiver Janet Samuels approved a $159 million proposed budget for the 2021-22 academic school year last month, a spending plan that includes federal COVID relief funding.
The budget would remain balanced for another year due to $52.9 million in federal Elementary Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds headed towards the district. The one-time dollars would fill a $5.6 million deficit that the district would likely have had otherwise.
There will be no property tax increase this year, although officials warned that they may have to raise taxes in future years.
“That’s a big win for taxpayers in such a difficult year that we are coming through,” said George Longridge, the district’s financial officer.
This year’s school district budget compares to a $158.2 million 2020-21 budget, which was balanced using a previous round of ESSER funds.
At the meeting, the district also noted that school board Director Jayne Buchwach has resigned her seat.
Two-Way 2nd Street Work Begins
Construction began last month to return much of N. 2nd Street in Harrisburg to two-way traffic.
Mayor Eric Papenfuse broke ground on the $5.7 million conversion project, which aims to make the street safer and the neighborhood more walkable.
“We are about to embark upon reversing one of the worst engineering decisions in our city’s modern history,” he said.
N. 2nd Street was long a two-way, neighborhood street. However, the state and city converted several streets to one-way traffic, including N. 2nd Street, in the 1950s to accommodate suburban commuters.
Harrisburg now will return the pattern back to two-way traffic from Forster to Division streets, adding pedestrian and bike-friendly elements, Papenfuse said. The switch to two-way will come near the end of the project next year, city Engineer Wayne Martin said.
Construction includes adding over 100 ADA-accessible ramps to intersections along the corridor, in compliance with PennDOT’s construction guidelines, according to Martin. Portions of the brick sidewalk near the intersections will be replaced, as well.
The city will then replace traffic signals with mini-roundabouts in the intersections at Kelker, Verbeke and Reily streets.
New traffic signals will be added to accommodate the two-way flow of traffic, along with new crosswalks and pedestrian refuge areas in the middle of the road. New markings on the road will remind drivers to share the road with bicyclists.
During construction, sections of the corridor may shift to two lanes for brief periods of time, Martin said.
Once this work is done, the section of N. 2nd Street will switch to two-way traffic with a 25-mph speed limit. The entire stretch will be repaved, along with some sections of the intersecting roads. Martin expects all construction to be completed by mid-October 2022.
The N. 2nd Street project falls under the city’s Vision Zero initiative to reduce pedestrian fatalities in Harrisburg, city officials said.
Sidewalk Widening Finished
The circle is now complete, as Harrisburg cut the ribbon on the final stretch of sidewalk expansion around the state Capitol.
Last month, city officials unveiled a new ADA-accessible length of sidewalk on N. 3rd Street surrounding the building.
About a decade ago, the state expanded the narrow strip of concrete that long surrounded much of the Capitol along Walnut and N. 3rd streets, constructing a full-sized walk. However, it left the job unfinished near the front of the building.
The newly reconstructed sidewalk extends the full-sized, 10-foot-wide walk from State Street to North Street, completing the loop around the building. The sidewalk expansion removed parking spaces along the street. However, that parking loss was made up last year, when the city built additional angled parking spaces and electric vehicle charging stations in front of the State Museum.
Across the street, at a bus stop near the intersection at North and 3rd streets, a bump out from the sidewalk also was added. City Engineer Wayne Martin said that this will increase safety for riders by making it easier for them to board the bus. ADA-accessible ramps were added to the sidewalks, as well.
The state Department of General Services helped the city fund the sidewalk project.
Financial Report Mostly Positive
Harrisburg’s fiscal condition is “sound” and its budget is in surplus, according to a largely positive annual report issued by the city’s financial oversight body.
The Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority for Harrisburg (ICA) issued its second annual report last month to the governor and legislature, stating that the city is in generally good financial shape.
“The report acknowledges a number of areas where progress has been made, while also identifying several priorities for improvement in fiscal management,” according to an ICA press release.
In 2018, the state created the ICA to oversee the creation of a five-year financial plan for Harrisburg.
The 26-page report submitted on Friday is substantially more positive than last year’s annual report, which robustly criticized the city for several alleged financial and accounting deficiencies.
Some of those criticisms—including a “low collection rate” in accounts receivable in the city’s Neighborhood Services Fund (sanitation), an outmoded IT infrastructure and a long-delayed audit of the city government’s physical assets—remain in the 2021 report.
Downtown Apartments OK’d
Downtown Harrisburg soon will have another new apartment building, as City Council last month approved an office-to-residential conversion.
During a virtual legislative session, council members unanimously passed the land development plan for the century-old, eight-story building at 112 Market St.
Harristown Enterprises will lead the $7 million project, which will include about 35 one- and two-bedroom apartments, with first-floor retail space, according to CEO Brad Jones. The 51,000-square-foot structure has served as an office building since its construction in 1918.
In recent years, Harristown and several other local developers have renovated and converted numerous aging, often rundown office buildings to apartments, adding hundreds of new residential units to the downtown.
Council last month also passed a resolution to enter into an agreement with Impact Harrisburg to conduct a disparity study to determine where diverse business vendors are underrepresented in the city’s public procurement and contracting processes.
Impact Harrisburg plans to hire a company to conduct the study to determine where the city can provide additional resources for minority, women, LGBTQ, disabled and veteran-owned businesses.
Both the city and Impact Harrisburg will contribute up to $125,000 for the study.
City Council also approved a settlement agreement with bond insurer Ambac Assurance to help pay down debt related to general obligation bond defaults incurred during the city’s financial crisis in 2012 and 2013. Through the agreement, the city hopes to accelerate debt payments and reduce its overall debt load.
Charter School Proposed
A new charter school is seeking to come to Harrisburg, with a focus on preparing Dauphin County students for the healthcare field.
The Pennsylvania Nurses Middle College Charter School came before the Harrisburg School District last month for a virtual public hearing on its application to create a charter high school in Midtown.
According to CEO Betsy Snook, the charter school seeks to create a pipeline for students in grades 9 through 12 to enter the nursing field. She said that they also hope to address the racial disparity in the field by attracting and training minority students.
The school was founded by the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association, which Snook also oversees, and the Nursing Foundation of Pennsylvania.
Snook said that she hopes the charter school will encourage students to pursue baccalaureate degrees in nursing.
If approved, the charter school would open for the 2022-23 academic year to all Dauphin County students, who would be chosen by a lottery system. Snook said that the school would seek to enroll 120 9th-grade students for the first year and add additional grades each year.
Classes would be STEM-focused with hands-on curriculum, practicums and summer employment opportunities in local healthcare settings, she explained. The school also would offer first-aid, CPR and Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in partnership with HACC.
The school would be located in GreenWorks Development’s Midtown II building, alongside the PA STEAM Academy.
Home Sales, Prices Gain in April
The Harrisburg-area housing market took flight in April, with both home sales and prices up substantially.
For the month, 686 houses sold in the area, compared to 465 homes for April 2020, as the median sales price increased to $225,000 from $200,000, according to the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors (GHAR).
In Dauphin County, 347 homes sold versus 220 a year ago, while the median sales price jumped to $200,000 from $171,000, GHAR stated.
Cumberland County had sales of 274 homes, compared to 216 in the prior year, as the median sales price rose to $267,000 from $234,950.
In Perry County, sales increased to 35 homes versus 22 houses in April 2020, as the median price declined to $156,000 from $174,200, GHAR said.
Houses were also selling much faster than last year, as the average “days on the market” declined to 22 days versus 50 days in April 2020, according to GHAR.
Notably, the number of home sales in April 2020 was held down by the COVID-19 pandemic and the state-mandated shutdown of businesses.
However, sales and price data in April also were strong compared to two years ago. In April 2019, 619 homes sold for a median price of $180,000 throughout GHAR’s three-county coverage area, according to the association.
Broad Street Market last month launched an online fundraiser to raise money to fix and upgrade their iconic sign, following storm damage over the winter. To pay for the project, the market hopes to raise $40,000 through a GoFundMe fundraiser and corporate sponsorships.
CoExist Glass Gallery in Steelton plans a mosaic mural this summer. The “Co-Exist in Kindness” mural will cover the gallery’s building on S. Front Street, using local and national talent. To find out more and how to participate, visit www.calyxglass.com/blog.
Dauphin County Library System last month launched a $3.5 million capital campaign to raise funds for the expansion and renovation of the McCormick Riverfront Library in downtown Harrisburg. The project entails connecting the building to the historic Haldeman Haly house next door, as well as improvements to both buildings.
GK Visual last month received two Communicator Awards of Excellence for its documentary web series, “Poured in PA.” The Harrisburg-based boutique video production company received the top awards for “campaign or series—web series” and “campaign or series—food and beverage” in the program honoring creative excellence for communications professionals.
Harrisburg again extended its eviction moratorium by 30 days, the fifth straight extension. The new moratorium extends through mid-June, as does a water shut-off moratorium, both imposed due to the COVID-19 emergency.
Harrisburg’s two public swimming pools should open later this month, the city said. The Jackson Lick and Hall Manor pools are slated to open by the end of June after being closed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jeff Haste retired as a Dauphin County commissioner last month, resigning partway through his fifth term in office. The county Court of Common Pleas is charged with appointing a replacement for the remainder of the term, which expires in January 2024.
Rovenia (Roe) Braddy has been named vice president of programs for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region. According to the Harrisburg-based organization, she brings almost 30 years of experience working with community youth.
Ryan Unger will be the next president and CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC, the organization announced last month. Unger, the CEO of the Harrisburg-based nonprofit Team Pennsylvania Foundation, will assume the post on July 1 following the retirement of long-time Chamber leader, Dave Black.
TheBurg received 22 Keystone press awards last month in the annual, peer-reviewed journalism contest sponsored by the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association Foundation. TheBurg received awards for reporting, writing, design and illustration, including the prestigious “Sweepstakes” award for the best performance statewide in its category.
The Vegetable Hunter last month announced its second location, at 46 W. High St. in downtown Carlisle. The Harrisburg-based restaurant offers a menu of vegan and kosher dishes, along with selections from its on-site craft brewery.
Barkley Lane, 2522: W. Workie to F. Ashenafi, $65,000
Berryhill St., 1331: SU Hogar LLC to G. Gutierrez & R. Soto, $31,000
Berryhill St., 2216: A. & L. Smith to B. & P. Mishra, $72,000
Berryhill St., 2320: A. Balkaran to T. Jones, $76,000
Briggs St., 1504: W. Brown to A. Almonte, $50,000
Chestnut St., 1937: F. Gutierrez & D. Sosa to NA Capital Group LLC, $42,000
Chestnut St., 1938: S. Dunbar to J. Cruz, $55,000
Chestnut St., 1951: K. Connor to F. Elizy, $80,900
Crescent St., 306: PD Estate Properties LLC to 2020 Real Estate Ventures LLC, $49,000
Cumberland St., 212: S. Reed to N&R Group, $116,800
Cumberland St., 222: D. Landis to S. Rubinstein & H. Choi, $182,500
Derry St., 1212: J. Cervantes to J. Alducin, $35,000
Derry St., 1727: Bank of New York Mellon to D. Boyle, $31,500
Derry St., 2001: K. Causey to M. Martinez, $112,000
Derry St., 2014: R. Do to Two Three Two Investments LLC, $71,675
Emerald St., 245: SPG Capital LLC to JTA Consulting Group LLC, $57,500
Forster St., 1932: J. Rawls to S. Rawls & G. Fallings, $50,000
Green St., 1109: Dilks Properties of Harrisburg LLC & American Heritage Property Management to CWJK Holdings LLC, $233,000
Green St., 1203: PA Deals LLC & Revolutionary Deals LLC to T. Jones, $156,500
Green St., 1314: J. Holman to G. Paterson & M. Goyo, $130,000
Green St., 1517: J. Bowser to J. Kavanagh & A. Jones, $166,000
Green St., 1718: A. Bargh & S. Moore to R. & H. Deighan, $220,000
Green St., 1943: J. Chu to D. & K. Wadlington, $211,800
Green St., 2006: B. Colucci to R. McCauley, $215,000
Green St., 2039: E. & K. Woolever to WCI Partners, $165,000
Green St., 2114: K. Abdelrahman & Susquehanna Realty Management to ECP3LLC, $105,000
Green St., 3218: S. Roblyer to J. & K. Fasut, $165,000
Harris St., 231: 231 Harris Street Land Trust, Dustin L. Palmer Trustee to K. Martin, $180,000
Hoerner St., 111: A. Otwell to Q. & C. Sherard, $44,000
Hoffman St., 3229: D&F Realty Holdings LP to J. & B. Rodriguez, $115,000
Holly St., 2023: I. Ward to K. Ward, $30,000
Kelker St., 319: Standing Tal LLC to C. Hurwitz, $140,000
Kensington St., 1940½: D. Boyle to A. Hernandez, $30,000
Logan St., 2212: S. Palmer to SPG Capital LLC, $48,000
Luce St., 2314½: Care Properties LLC to R. & B. Lomax, $50,000
Luce St., 2332: Care Properties LLC to R. & B. Lomax, $55,000
Market St., 1713: J. & L. Hendricks to M. Karlson, $117,300
Market St., 2000: D. Garcia to A. Robinson, $120,000
Mulberry St., 1164: J. Ripa to M. Mignogno, $145,000
North St., 250: RJ Shultz Enterprises Inc. to G. & K. Beeman, $85,000
North St., 252: RJ Shultz Enterprises Inc. to G. & K. Beeman, $100,000
North St., 1942: Neidlinger Enterprises LLC to R. Nolt, $146,900
N. 2nd St., 806: H. Fang & K. Zhu to Di Wu & M. Hu, $238,000
N. 2nd St., 1331: S. Mimm to J. Wacker & E. Walker, $199,900
N. 2nd St., 1831: Vantage Rentals LP to WCI Partners LP, $160,000
N. 2nd St., 1839: Trip Acres 1839 LLC to WCI Partners LP, $225,000
N. 2nd St., 2001: Capozzi & Ehring Realty LLC to WCI Partners LP, $240,000
N. 2nd St., 2226: J. Hall to B. & A. Capptauber, $265,000
N. 2nd St., 2235: K. Deardorff to Beyond Holdings LLC, $200,000
N. 2nd St., 2237: K. Deardorff to Beyond Holdings LLC, $200,000
N. 2nd St., 2719: J. MacDonald to P. & K. Miovas, $248,000
N. 2nd St., 3220: Noble Colt LLC to A. Bull & D. Parkent, $194,900
N. 3rd St., 2347: K. Mohamed to Next Level Opportunity LLC, $185,000
N. 3rd St., 2415: M. Delgado to S. Hurst, $156,000
N. 4th St., 1432: D. Martin & N. Douglas to Keystone Brothers Investment LLC, $71,500
N. 4th St., 2316A: S. Bornak to N. & L. McCoy, $55,000
N. 4th St., 3013: T. Wylie to D&A Homes LLC, $55,000
N. 5th St., 1928: E. Stoute to Hillside Financial LLC, $70,000
N. 5th St., 2034: J. & D. Riddle to R. Seidel, $135,900
N. 5th St., 2428: P. Burke to Neidlinger Enterprises LLC, $47,000
N. 13th St., 126: T. Lloyd to S. Samuel & K. Lucas, $90,000
N. 13th St., 504: D. Malesich to Harrisburg Cemetery Association, $115,000
N. 15th St., 1611: S. Dunbar to M. Freeman, $54,000
N. 16th St., 1100: M. Johnston to Nehema LLC, $112,500
N. 16th St., 1208: Omaha Property Manager LLC to HLI Properties PA LLC, $79,900
N. 18th St., 807: A. Graves to F. Florian & J. Ricardo, $62,500
N. 19th St., 718, 722 & 724: A. LaTorre to A. Miller, $100,000
Penn St., 1515: M. & C. Magilton to J. Elliott, $186,000
Reel St., 2416: CR Property Group LLC to J. Johnson, $117,500
Reel St., 2635: J. & H. Moore to G. Chisholm, $45,000
Regina St., 1428: G. Osborne to F. Luciano, $37,000
Reily St., 217: R. & E. Killeen to A. Troutman, $154,000
Reily St., 422 & 424: T. Harden & C. Freeland to 400 Reily Street LLC, $80,000
Revere St., 1716: J. Carter to Biyaki Enterprises LLC, $50,000
Revere St., 1718: J. & L. Carter to Biyaki Enterprises LLC, $32,000
Rolleston St., 1203: J. & W. Colon to N. Caba, $62,000
Rolleston St., 1229, 1405 N. 15th St., 430 S. 17th St., 1002 N. 18th St., 2455 Reel St. & 3015 N. 6th St.: DRW Properties LLC to N. Maurer, $195,000
Seneca St., 263: K. Strohm to L. Cervantes, T. Astuto & E. Marquez, $98,000
Showers St., 591: K. Lavalee to M. Minaya, $135,000
South St., 101: C. Dotto to M. & K. Rittel, $130,000
S. 12th St., 1503: L. Williams to Neidlinger Enterprises LLC, $65,000
S. 13th St., 330: S. & A. Fisher to R. & M. Antonio, $48,000
S. 13th St., 400: A. & E. Taylor to G. Piatt, $95,000
S. 18th St., 17: R. & D. Stevenson to XVL Properties LLC, $42,100
S. 18th St., 151: CPenn Patriot Properties LLC to J. Medina, $40,000
S. 18th St., 946: Darna Investments LLC & A. Gomaa to 946 South 18th LLC, $150,000
S. 19th St., 1338: N&R Group LLC to B. Skaggs, $168,999
S. 21st St., 2: G. & W. Heise to A. Hart, $270,000
S. 23rd St., 519: R. & L. Rivera to L. & P. Gurung, $157,000
S. Front St., 705½: J. & A. Juratovic to S. Jackson & C. Colon, $147,000
S. Summit St., 37: J. Gulbin to Sunnyvale Properties LLC, $84,000
Spencer St., 1849: B. Davis to D. Boyle, $30,000
State St., 231, Unit 706: LUX 1 LP to S. Chaudhuri, $137,200
State St., 1300: MSP Associates Inc. to Shutter Real Estate LLC, $195,000
State St., 1807: Storm Investment Properties LLC to D. & R. Nelson, $75,000
Swatara St., 2142: Top Notch Homes LLC to Neidlinger Enterprises LLC, $69,000
Sylvan Terr., 160: D. Miller to Guardian Realty LLC, $145,000
Thompson St., 1613: 4880 East Prospect LLC to J. Linc Holdings LLC, $30,000
Verbeke St., 256: J. Morris to J. Speakman, $206,500
Verbeke St., 313: A. & A. Davenport to D. & J. Fitzsimons, $195,000
Vernon St., 1356: J. & C. Peters to J. Hernandez, C. Rodriguez & M. Mendez, $35,000
Vernon St., 1413: T. Sweet to 1413 Vernon Enterprises LLC, $75,000
Whitehall St., 1819: W. Morse to M. Bettis, $99,000
Woodbine St., 622: CR Property Group to K. Chow, $115,000
Harrisburg property sales for April 2021, greater than $30,000. Source: Dauphin County. Data is assumed to be accurate.
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