Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

November News Digest

Spradley Appointed Treasurer

Tyrell Spradley was named Harrisburg’s treasurer last month, ending a search that spanned more than two months.

A divided City Council selected Spradley following four rounds of voting, which included two other candidates—attorney Karen Balaban and former city councilman and controller Dan Miller.

Following his appointment, Spradley, 30, said he was eager to learn about and take on the part-time position, which pays $20,000 per year.

Harrisburg needed to name a new treasurer following the arrest in August of then-city treasurer John Campbell, who has been charged with theft from two organizations where he also served as treasurer.

Council first appointed accountant Timothy East to serve as Campbell’s replacement, but East withdrew his name after a personal bankruptcy came to light.

Spradley’s own eligibility was briefly called into question last month over issue involving his residency and the lack of a business license for an accounting company he owns. City officials later indicated those issues had been resolved.

Spradley will serve the remainder of Campbell’s four-year term, which runs until the end of next year.


Sinkhole Money Available

Some Harrisburg residents may benefit from a decision last month that allows federal assistance to be used to buy out homes endangered by sinkholes.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency ruled that municipalities could apply for aid to acquire sinkhole-prone structures.

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse said the city immediately would apply for a grant to provide relief for homeowners along the 1400-block of S. 14th St., which has been devastated by sinkholes. There is no guarantee that Harrisburg will receive the money, as fierce competition is expected around the country for the grants.

Separately, Camp Hill-based Gannett Fleming last month issued more results of its sinkhole study in South Harrisburg.

The engineering firm told City Council that it had two options. The city could either buy out 27 houses in the middle of the most affected block or it could inject a substance beneath the surface to help stabilize the ground and prevent future sinkhole formation. Either option, both of which would include extensive road repair and relocating of residents, would cost about $4 million.

FEMA has put a cap of $3 million per project on its disaster allowance for sinkholes.


Schools Fail to Meet Performance Goals

Harrisburg public schools failed by a wide margin to meet academic standards set by the state-appointed chief recovery officer, according to state academic performance measures released last month.

None of Harrisburg’s schools met the academic goals for the 2013-14 school year set forth by Chief Recovery Officer Gene Veno in an April 2014 amendment to his recovery plan for the district.

The state’s “Building Level Academic Score” uses a 100-point scale to measure school performance. Much like a student report card, a score above 90 is considered excellent, while a score below 70 is deemed poor.

The following list shows each school’s performance, followed by a bracketed number that includes Veno’s goals for each school for the 2013-14 academic year.

  • Math Science Academy: 75.9 [94.2]
  • Harrisburg High School SciTech Campus: 63.8 [72.3]
  • Foose School: 57.8 [59.8]
  • Scott School: 57 [62.4]
  • Melrose School: 53.1 [69.7]
  • Downey School: 49.4 [67.5]
  • Benjamin Franklin School: 44.6 [63.5]
  • Marshall School: 44.4 [61.4]
  • Rowland School: 42.6 [56.5]
  • Harrisburg High School: 39.7 [57.6]
  • Camp Curtin School: 39.6 [60.3]

Scores were based upon several measures, including students’ performance on state standardized tests, improvement since the previous year, graduation and attendance rates and, in the case of high school students, SAT and ACT scores.


Lighting Grant Approved

Harrisburg’s plan to upgrade its streetlights took a step forward last month, as the city announced that it had received a $500,000 grant for its LED streetlight project.

Several months ago, the Papenfuse administration applied for the Pennsylvania Energy Department Authority grant, which City Council then approved.

In related matters, the administration last month asked council to approve the hiring of Doylestown-based Suburban Lighting Consultants to provide engineering services for the LED project. It also asked council to OK the engagement of Pittsburgh-based The Efficiency Network, which would conduct an inventory of existing streetlights, as well as an audit of streetlight and exterior light utility bills.


Green Infrastructure Grant Received

Capital Region Water has been awarded a $125,000 state grant to develop a Green Stormwater Infrastructure Plan for Harrisburg.

The grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) will allow Capital Region Water to evaluate using green infrastructure to reduce the impacts of runoff on the Harrisburg community, the Susquehanna River and Paxton Creek, and the underground infrastructure it operates, according to Andrew Bliss, Capital Region Water’s community outreach manager.

Green infrastructure is a broad term for trees, gardens and other ways to help reduce runoff by absorbing rainwater.

Last month, Capital Region Water also marked the one-year anniversary of its takeover of city water and sewer operations.

In addition to the DCNR grant, Bliss said, the year included several other achievements, including a “Top 5” designation for best drinking water in the country; a bond refinancing that will save the authority $4 million over two years; progress on a comprehensive GIS mapping project; and the beginning of a $50 million upgrade to the wastewater treatment facility.


Midtown Distillery Proposed

Two city residents announced plans last month to open a small-batch distillery in Midtown Harrisburg in the blighted, historic “Carpets and Draperies” building.

Alan Kennedy-Shaffer and Stanley Gruen are due to appear this month before the city’s Planning Commission and Zoning Hearing Board in an effort to get a variance for the site at 1507 N. 3rd St., which is not zoned for industrial use.

The partners plan a full renovation of the century-old building, which has sat empty for more than a decade. Their plan includes a bar and tasting room, in addition to a craft distillery that would make such spirits as whiskey, vodka, gin and rye.

If all goes well, they hope to open in mid-2015.


Parking Ordinances Updated

Motorists are on the hook to pay their parking fines, as the Harrisburg City Council last month updated its parking ordinances to conform to the city’s financial recovery plan.

Council needed to make technical changes to the city code to give operator Standard Parking the legal authority to enforce penalties. It also changed language to increase fines and allow non-currency forms of payment, such as credit and debit cards.

Standard Parking took over the city’s parking system in January, but council did not immediately update the city code. As a result, Harrisburg will receive about $200,000 less in parking revenue than anticipated this year.

The city said it expects to receive as much as $2.5 million in parking revenue next year.


Playground Safety Grant

Harrisburg has received a grant that could lead to improved safety at five of the city’s playgrounds.

The $10,000 grant from the Community Conservation Partnerships Program will fund an inspection and safety audit of the Cloverly Heights and Royal Terrace playgrounds, as well as playgrounds at Norwood and Hollywood streets; N. 4th and Dauphin streets; and Penn and Sayford streets.

The grant also will fund the creation of a routine playground maintenance and safety program and the training of city staff on program implementation.


Kim Re-Elected to 103rd

Incumbent Rep. Patty Kim will serve a second term in the state legislature, as voters returned her to office last month in an uncontested race.

Kim ran unopposed in the general election for the 103rd legislative district after beating challenger Gina Roberson in the Democratic primary in May.

In other election news, former Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson lost in her bid to unseat incumbent Republican Scott Perry to represent the 4th House district in Congress.


Changing Hands

Adrian St., 2423: B. Bisbano to C. Warble, $49,300

Benton St., 527: R. & A. Della Croce to S. Rea & M. Urgiles, $98,500

Berryhill St., 1954: C. Frater to M. Frater, $65,000

Cumberland St., 119: JB Buy Rite LP to S. Pritchard, $73,500

Duke St., 2614: PI Capital LLC to W. & A. Rivera, $88,900

Fulton St., 1710: N. Culver to Cartus Financial Corp., $107,000

Green St., 1615: R. & S. Aulakh to J. Scott, $92,500

Green St., 1902: WCI Partners LP to B. Garner, $180,000

Green St., 2024: Fulton Bank NA to J. Workman & J. Arawj, $139,000

Harris St., 213: J. Counterman to 8219 Ventures, $52,000

Herr St., 215: R. & E. Simons to Crested Enterprises LLC, $77,500

Hoffman St., 3206: Secretary of Veterans Affairs to Skynet Property Management LP, $43,000

Holly St., 1840: Tassia Corp. to Capital Properties LLC, $40,000

Kensington St., 2422: PA Deals LLC to C. & S. Feggins, $68,000

Mulberry St., 1936: C. Doran & A. Burnett to I. Peredo, $64,900

N. 2nd St., 513: T. & J. Male to Cricket Real Estate Enterprises LLC, $165,000

N. 2nd St., 2527: N. Myers to S. & A. Andrus, $193,500

N. 3rd St., 2304: Harrisburg Ventures LLC to FD Harrisburg Holdings LLC, $2,213,700

N. 4th St., 1733: PI Capitol LLC to G. Laudenslager, $100,000

N. 4th St., 2336: S&T Renovations LLC to A. & A. Barras, $58,000

N. 4th St., 2400 & 2402: M. Reed to E&K Homes LLC, $57,000

N. 4th St., 2547: PA Deals LLC to J. Tucker, $61,000

N. 4th St., 3228: A. Wlazlak to J. Tyson, $105,000

N. 4th St., 3231: J. Crutchfield to J. Grant, $79,900

N. 7th St., 2324 & 2350; 655 Seneca St.; 648 Curtin St.: M. Spangler to DAP 7 Curtin LP, $260,000

N. 16th St., 1205: D. Griffin to C. & B. Orellana, $35,000

N. 17th St., 817: G. Andrews to J. Jacob & T. Byrd, $120,000

N. 20th St., 14: Kirsch & Burns LLC to LMK Properties LLC, $32,000

N. Cameron St., 1914: D. Marino to J. Pagliaro, $72,000

Norwood St., 916: M. Flickinger to Crist Holdings LLC, $38,000

Penn St., 1509: D. & D. Dreher to D. Walker, $127,000

Penn St., 1703: B. Houtz to L. Colestock, $155,000

Penn St., 1921: S. Vanscoyc to H. Elliot, $123,000

S. 3rd St., 27: E. & R. Shore to Dewberry LLC, $190,000

S. 17th St., 38: S. Ledesma & M. Figueroa to J. Renteria & C. Figueroa, $30,000

S. 25th St., 713: S. Mosley to Kirsch & Burns LLC, $30,000

S. Front St., 595; 106 Tuscarora St. & 601 Showers St.: J. Barton to Dunkin & Associates LP, $250,000

State St., 231, Unit 202: LUX 1 LP to M. Abuel Jr., $134,900

Tuscarora St., 104: R. Rammouni & Touch of Color to J. Jones, $182,500

Verbeke St., 112: PA Deals LLC to M. & G. Modi, $125,000

Walnut St., 126: Pennsylvania Tourism & Lodging Assoc. to 126 Walnut Street LLC, $75,000

Walnut St., 128: Pennsylvania Tourism & Lodging Assoc. to 126 Walnut Street LLC, $75,000

Walnut St., 1854, 1856, 1858 & 1860: T. Vu & T. Tran to T. Van et al, $145,000


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