Reed Arrested, Arraigned
Seven-term Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed was arrested and arraigned last month on 17 criminal charges ranging from bribery to running a criminal organization.
In all, the state charged Reed with 499 criminal counts covering actions related to the Harrisburg Parking Authority and the Harrisburg School District, as well as city government.
The counts cover alleged actions for many well-known Reed-era projects, such as the incinerator retrofit, the effort to acquire museum artifacts, the Senators baseball team and Harrisburg University.
Debt accumulated under Reed eventually resulted in a financial crisis that led the state to appoint a receiver for the city, as well as a failed attempt by City Council to declare municipal bankruptcy.
Dauphin County District Justice William C. Wenner set bail at $150,000 unsecured, meaning that Reed did not actually have to post bond. He ordered Reed to surrender his passport and restrict travel to the confines of Pennsylvania.
After the arraignment, Reed and his attorney, Henry E. Hockeimer Jr. of the Philadelphia-based firm Ballard Spahr, made statements defending the 28-year mayor. Reed blamed the criminal charges on “misperceptions and politics,” while Hockeimer said Reed “carried out his role [as mayor] with dedication and integrity.”
Afterwards, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane publicly released the grand jury presentment, which detailed the evidence behind the charges. The presentment alleged that thousands of “artifacts” and “curiosities” purchased with public funds were found in Reed’s home and storage areas; that Reed diverted money from city borrowings for other purposes; and that he used city employees for personal reasons.
Market Report Released
The Broad Street Market Task Force last month released a long-anticipated report on how to improve the condition, management and overall operations of the historic Midtown market.
Chairwoman Jackie Parker told Harrisburg City Council that the market’s two buildings are in decent condition, but that they will require “large capital investments” over the next decade.
More immediately, the report strongly recommended changing the market’s management structure.
Currently, the Broad Street Market Corp. operates the market, with the Historic Harrisburg Association as its sole shareholder. The task force advised separating from HHA and transitioning to a nonprofit entity, which then could better pursue grants and other funding.
“It would be a newly established nonprofit that is dedicated to full-time fundraising for the market,” said Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse, who announced the 10-member task force early last year as one of his first acts as mayor.
That transition could take the better part of two years, said Parker, who also is director of the city’s Department of Community and Economic Development.
Under the new structure, the market’s two buildings would remain owned by the city, but ongoing repair and maintenance would shift to the nonprofit, which would be overseen by a board of directors composed of volunteers from the community and market stakeholders.
The report recommended a number of other operational improvements, including free WiFi, greater recycling efforts, extended hours, greater diversity of food options, a marketing budget and better litter management.
Separately, Joshua Kesler last month was named president of the Broad Street Market Corp. board, replacing Jonathan Bowser, who resigned in June. Kesler is owner of The Millworks restaurant and art studios across the street from the market.
Campbell Pleads Guilty
Former Harrisburg Treasurer John Campbell last month pleaded guilty to charges that he stole money from several Harrisburg-based non-profit organizations.
Campbell said he was guilty of two counts of unlawful taking, a felony, and one count of Charitable Act fraud, a misdemeanor. He also promised to make full restitution for the thefts, which total almost $30,000.
Campbell was accused of taking money from several groups, including Historic Harrisburg Association, the Stonewall Democrats and Lighten Up Harrisburg. He was not charged with theft relating to his position as city treasurer.
If Campbell makes restitution by his Sept. 15 sentencing, Dauphin County Deputy District Attorney Joel Hogentogler said he would agree to a sentence of probation.
Anti-Blight Bills Passed
Harrisburg City Council last month approved two bills meant to battle the continuing problem of blight in the city.
The bills, passed unanimously, create a registry of foreclosed properties and increase fines on real estate investors and speculators for code violations.
Under the first ordinance, banks will pay a $200 annual fee for each property on the registry. The properties then must be kept properly maintained and secured.
Under the second, the city will levy higher fines on “corporate owners” of properties cited for code violations than it does on residential owners.
The higher fines are justified because it costs the city money to track down the investors and speculators, who often live out of the area and are difficult to identify and contact because they hide behind corporate entities, said Mayor Eric Papenfuse.
Food Truck Rules Updated
Food trucks in Harrisburg must locate at least 100 feet from brick-and-mortar restaurants under an ordinance passed last month by the City Council.
Council unanimously approved an ordinance update that requires food trucks and other mobile food vendors from setting up within 100 feet of existing restaurants, 15 feet from building entrances and 15 feet from a fire hydrant.
The ordinance update was urged by several downtown restaurants, which have complained that food trucks set up near them during high-volume times, such as during lunch and on weekend nights, and negatively affect their business. They also have complained about grease and litter.
The mobile vendors also must cease selling by 2:30 a.m. and move from the area by 2:45 a.m.
The ordinance does not apply to food trucks that congregate during special events, such as the monthly Food Truck Feast held during 3rd in the Burg.
HUD Funds Distributed
Harrisburg last month finalized the recipients of its annual dispersal of federal housing money.
The city received $3.1 million from three U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development programs, most through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program.
The city’s housing rehabilitation program received $451,806, the largest allocation, and the city police department received $250,000, which it plans to use to boost manpower in Harrisburg’s most troubled neighborhoods. The city’s demolition program got $111,114.
Other recipients included:
Fair Housing Council, $130,000
Tri County HDC, $100,000
Camp Curtin YMCA, $80,000
Christian Recovery Aftercare Ministry, $75,000
Habitat for Humanity, $70,000
Boys & Girls Club of Harrisburg, $60,000
Latino Hispanic American Community Center, $59,982
Heinz-Menaker Senior Center, $50,000
Mid Penn Legal Services, $30,000
Christian Love Ministries, $29,000
Codes Enforcement, $10,000
The city’s Emergency Solutions Grant Program received $164,603, and the Homeowner Improvement Program got $295,765.
More than $1 million will not go directly to recipients. Grant administration received $482,624, while debt service ate up $638,000. The latter item covers this year’s installment of repayment of a $3.8 million federal loan that Harrisburg backed for the failed (since revived) Capitol View Commerce Center.
Recovery Officer Appointed
Audrey Utley was appointed last month as the new chief recovery officer for the Harrisburg School District.
State Board of Education Secretary Pedro Rivera appointed Utley after a search committee recommended her. She recently retired as superintendent of the Steelton-Highspire school district and served a short, three-month stint as acting superintendent of the Harrisburg district in 2010.
Utley will continue the effort of trying to improve the financial and academic condition of the Harrisburg district, an effort begun by Utley’s predecessor, Gene Veno, who served in the post about two years before resigning in June.
Under Veno’s recovery plan, the district’s precarious financial situation stabilized, but the academic performance deteriorated further, according to state performance measures released last year.
2 Projects Get Green Light
More apartments are coming to Harrisburg, as the City Council last month approved land development plans for two substantial projects.
First, council unanimously approved Harristown Enterprise’s plan to convert 21,000 square feet of office space and another 6,000 square feet of loft space to six two-bedroom and 16 one-bedroom apartments above a stretch of shops along N. 3rd and Market streets in Strawberry Square.
If all goes according to plan, work on the project would begin this fall with completion slated for spring 2016, said Brad Jones, president and CEO of Harristown Enterprises, which owns Strawberry Square.
Council then OK’d a plan by WCI Partners to transform the former Harrisburg Moose Lodge Temple at N. 3rd and Boas streets into 33 one-bedroom apartments, with commercial space on the ground floor. WCI also plans to renovate three boarded-up townhouses on the property.
WCI President Dave Butcher said the project should begin in early autumn with completion expected next summer.
Transit Consolidation Urged
A state official last month urged the Harrisburg City Council to consider regional consolidation of mass transit services.
Area governments could save an estimated $2.3 million a year, mostly through reduced administrative staff, if they chose to consolidate into a single entity, said Toby Fauver, deputy secretary for multimodal transportation for the state Department of Transportation.
Fauver cited the potential savings as he briefed council on Phase 2 of the South-Central Regional Transit Consolidation Study, which recommends consolidation for most transit systems in south-central Pennsylvania.
If they decide to merge transit operations, the participating counties and municipalities would need to appoint representatives to a transition board that would decide such issues as structure, governance and operations. The consolidation would cost about $4.7 million to achieve, but the state would absorb that cost, Fauver said.
Boas St., 106: K. Miller to A. Nascone, $130,000
Boas St., 314: B. Ostella to W. James, $99,900
Briggs St., 241: M. Simmons to C. Jeffers, $113,500
Calder St., 504: P. Maruszewski to H. Nguyen, $109,900
Catherine St., 1620: R. & M. Caplan to M. & V. Keyes, $31,000
Chestnut St., 2137: P. Bowman to G. Bierbaum & W. Alford, $184,900
Cumberland St., 117: J. & C. Kuntz to Cardinal Investments LLC, $81,900
Derry St., 2422: N. Foose to D. Brently, $61,900
Green St., 1910: WCI Partners LP to C. Reinhold & K. Hurst, $193,900
Green St., 3011: R. Snyder to M. Palermo Jr., $180,000
Herr St., 415: A. Antoun to J. Foreman, $54,900
Herr St., 1424: M. & A. Foreman to Bethesda Mission of Harrisburg, $275,00
Kelker St., 235: S. Woomer to D. Robinson & J. Vu, $99,900
Kensington St., 2408: PA Deals LLC to F. Frattarole, $63,500
Manada St., 1905: PA Deals LLC to G. & J. Modi, $96,000
North St., 1718; 2418 Jefferson St.; 2228 N. 4th St.; 350 Harris St.; 352 Harris St.; 1813 Boas St. & 1833 Forster St.: R. Shokes Jr. & Shokes Enterprises to JDP 2014 LP, $497,000
N. 2nd St., 405, Unit 2 & Unit 4: Belco Community Credit Union to Vinculum Inc., $410,000
N. 2nd St., 1100: L. & A. Morato to S. & J. Toole, $45,000
N. 2nd St., 2537: J. & M. McCarthy to N. Banting, $72,100
N. 2nd St., 2821: D. & M. Anderson to J. & L. Witmer, $96,000
N. 2nd St., 2904: J. Reitz & Webster Bank NA to F. & B. Pinto, $285,750
N. 2nd St., 2926: J. & Y. Garner to M. & S. Bennington, $282,000
N. 2nd St., 3118: A. Barlup to P. & M. Rowan, $152,000
N. 3rd St., 1720: F. Phillipy to A. & A. Campoverde, $90,000
N. 4th St., 1625: GWD Capitol Heights LP to J. Wolfe & K. Hunt, $103,300
N. Front St., 1525, Unit 103: K. Blum to A. McKenna, $214,900
N. Front St., 2401: E. & D. Black to J.A. Hartzler, $215,000
N. Front St., 2501: Harrisburg Builders Exchange to Poole Anderson Construction LLC, $415,000
Rudy Rd., 2401: C. Butler to B. Royster, $119,900
S. 18th St., 946: W. & D. Shalan to Darna Investments LLC, $140,000
S. 21st St., 971: Lee Estates LLC to T. Le, $100,000
S. 29th St., 520: E. Cohen & Goodrich Assoc. to Goodrich Assoc., $125,000
S. Front St., 607: S. Farr to T. Edinger, $130,000
S. Front St., 711: Z. & J. Goodling to P. Moore, $180,000
State St., 1801: MAT Properties Inc. to Transcend Church, $99,000
Taylor Blvd., 52: PA Deals LLC to V. & S. Vdov, $56,900
Woodlawn St., 2359: Meier Norton FLP to Meier Supply Co., $406,800
Wyeth St., 1404: A. Weikert to F. Frattarole, $103,900
Wyeth St., 1412: PA Deals LLC to F. Frattarole, $103,900
Harrisburg property sales for June 2015, greater than $30,000. Source: Dauphin County. Data is assumed to be accurate.