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Senator angry over council's 'indecisiveness'

October 31, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - State Sen. Terry Punt pulled no punches in a letter to the Waynesboro Borough Council this week, blaming it for losing major projects over the years because they failed to act.

Borough Council President Douglas Tengler, reacting to Punt's criticism, said, "council members work hard to get projects completed. They spend time away from their families to devote time to the borough."

Punt, R-Franklin, said in his letter that while the council backed projects for which they asked him to find money - street repairs, Main Street Inc., playground equipment - its indecisiveness caused the loss of money for projects that he believed were needed.

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Among them were a $1.2 million grant for a new traffic control system that is now threatened because the council reversed a vote on center square and a $325,000 grant for a proposed Buchanan Trail Pedestrian Walkway that Punt withdrew because of the council's "inaction and indecisiveness," he said.

"I'm not trying to interfere. I'm just imploring the council to make decisions," Punt said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

"I feel strongly that the sidewalk is needed and the council has still not made a decision," he said.

The council voted June 19 to support the sidewalk in concept, but has done nothing since.

The walkway's route would take it through Renfrew Park and Museum. Officials there have balked about its location. The borough owns Renfrew. Punt blamed council members for caving in to Renfrew officials.

He said there are more than 100 municipalities in his senatorial district and all are after him for money for projects. "If Renfrew and the council can't agree then I'll put the money somewhere where it can be used," he said.

"Waynesboro is my home. I was born here, raised my family here and I will be buried here," he said. "Waynesboro hasn't done bad by me."

The public square and traffic light projects have been in the works for nine years, he said.

PennDOT advised the borough the sidewalks around the square would have to be moved in closer for the new traffic lights, Punt said in his letter.

The council delayed for five years, finally voting to close in the square. Then in May, the council voted to leave it, again threatening the loss of state funds.

Punt said PennDOT spent $60,000 on engineering fees based on a closed square. The state wants the borough to pay the money back. Punt said the council asked him to find the money.

Tengler said Wednesday he is working with PennDOT officials and has found a way to pay the $60,000 back without raising taxes.

"Now I'm going to ask the council for a vote so we can move the square project forward. We need new traffic signals," Tengler said.

Punt's letter refers to grants he secured for projects nearly a decade ago that were dropped due to inaction by the council. Included were a band shell for Memorial Park and a traffic light at Northeast Avenue.

"He's angry and I can see why," Councilman Charles "Chip" McCammon said.

"Take the sidewalk. The borough owns Renfrew and it should be the borough's decision alone. I don't know why we keep referring back to them."

Councilman Allen Porter said he's disappointed that the council has not gone along with projects that Punt found money for. "They were all good projects," he said.

Tengler said he doesn't think the current council members should be held accountable for things that happened nine years ago.

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