Bethel council approves Spencer Family YMCA plans

Published Nov 12, 2013 at 11:54 am (Updated Nov 12, 2013 at 2:04 pm)

Bethel Park Council Nov. 11 approved the addition conditional use for the Spencer Family YMCA, which is being built at the former Bladerunners Ice Rink on the high school campus, by a vote of 5-2. Voting against approval were Don Harrison and Paul Dixon.

Harrison said he is opposed to the construction in a single-family residential area for the same reason he opposed the original ice rink construction.

Before the vote, several residents and local business owners spoke against the development, citing issues of traffic and the fact that the nonprofit YMCA will take business away from fitness businesses that pay taxes.

Solicitor Robert McTernan said the developers had the approval of the zoning board and that a traffic study had been conducted.

Municipal officials added that the YMCA had cancelled plans for an outside swimming pool because of municipal restrictions.

As to whether or not the YMCA will be granted tax exempt status is up to Allegheny County assessors.

If the assessors say the nonprofit must pay taxes, “We will be happy to collect them,” said councilman James McLean. “Nothing makes us happier than money coming in.”

Council also approved a budget for 2014 that includes a tax increase of .34 mills for funding the operation of the Bethel Park Volunteer Fire Company. The tax was overwhelmingly approved by a voter referendum in May.

The base tax rate remains at last year's rate of 1.98, which brings the total millage rate to 2.32.

The budget passed by a vote of 6-1, with Councilman Don Harrison casting the dissenting vote. Harrison said he has always been a supporter of the fire company, but it is his belief that council improperly placed the referendum on the ballot by taking it to the Allegheny County Election Bureau without waiting a month for the ordinance was illegal.

Council members Jack Allen and John Pape were absent.

Council members unanimously awarded the garbage hauling contract to Greenridge Waste Services LLC Allied Waste Services/Republic Service.

Municipal officials said they chose Republic over long-time garbage hauler Waste Management because of the lower bid, which will save the municipality $328,000 over the length of the contract. The contract will run 2014-2018.

“This is no reflection on Waste Management,” said Councilman Paul Dixon. “They've done a great job for us.”

Council president Tim Moury said the change should not affect the residents as the pickup schedule will stay the same.

The municipal Christmas tree lighting scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Dec. 4 at the community center, and plans are in the works for the annual holiday decorating contest.

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