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MAYOR CONSIDERING MAJOR RENOVATIONS TO CITY HALL

Lackawanna Mayor Kathleen M. Staniszewski told residents at public forum Friday evening that her administration will take a serious look at renovating City Hall.

While she proposed no specific plan or funding, she insisted that the first thing to go will be that "ungodly" orange that dominates to building's facade.

"We would never put the burden of building a new City Hall on the taxpayer. The city will explore options and get rid of that orange color, that ungodly color," Mayor Staniszewski told about 20 residents who attended the meeting in the Lackawanna Senior Center off Martin Road.

During her remarks, in which she highlighted projects that will be funded by federal block grants, she also said the city will use $75,000 to develop a new city master plan. The city's last master plan was developed in 1972.

"It about time we looked at that again," she said, noting how the departure of Bethlehem Steel has left the city with large tracts of abandoned former industrial land.

The mayor also fielded questions on such diverse subjects as snow plowing and sewer problems. Another issue that was brought up is the proposed new development of a 148-unit senior citizen housing complex at South Park and Autumn Lane.

Michael L. Joseph, president of Clover Management, has asked the Lackawanna Municipal Housing Authority to float $6.4 million in tax-free bonds to help finance the project.

Joseph initially asked the authority for $4.5 million in tax-free bonds to build a 93-unit senior complex at Ridge Road near Reed Street. Since then, he has changed both the location and bond financing for the project, but not the $50,000 payment in lieu of taxes he is offering to the city.

Joseph DiCenzo, who often presses local government to restrain spending, used Joseph's $50,000 offer with an annual 4 percent increase, to show that the developer would only pay $130,000 in taxes by the end of the 10-year period. Under normal tax payments, DiCenzo calculated, the property tax on the building would amount to $200,000 annually.

"The city still has to provide those people with services. It's shifting burden on us rather than the developer," he said.

Joseph has told the housing board that prior calculations on the 93-unit project were incorrect.

"I agree with you, they should pay more to the city up front," Mayor Staniszewski said, adding that housing needs in the city must be also met.

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