West York councilman: Public works building 'a safety issue'

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
The West York Boro Highway Department in West York Borough, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019. Dawn J. Sagert photo

West York will likely have a new highway and public works complex by the end of 2020, the borough manager said Friday, but one member of the borough council says the existing building should have already been torn down.

"It’s been a safety issue that’s been standing there for the last three years," said Councilman Brian Wilson at a meeting Monday, Aug. 5. "It needs torn down."

The eastern wall of the building's equipment shed partially collapsed in late 2016, said Shawn Mauck, borough manager.

An engineer vetted the structure and deemed it stable once the borough shored up the eastern wall, Mauck said, and the borough provided alternative work space options for its three Department of Public Works employees.

Mauck said the building is not a safety hazard and that, in any case, the DPW employees spend most of their workday out in the field rather than at the office.

"The idea that somehow they’re working in an unfit building is inaccurate," he said.

The disagreement came about Monday, Aug. 5, when Wilson voted against the purchase of a new street sweeper for $161,240 — divided into seven annual payments of $26,770 — saying that money should have instead been used to raze the old building.

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But the street sweeper payments will be made from the borough's liquid fuels fund, said Councilman Richie Stahle, and that money is only eligible for road improvements or road equipment purchases, not construction or demolition.

Wilson also questioned why the borough hadn't used the insurance check from the structural damage to demolish the building.

Mauck said the director of public works preferred to keep a base of operations at the existing building until the construction on the new building can move forward.

And the $21,000 of insurance money is still in the borough's general fund, Mauck said, adding that the borough is in the process of securing financing to raze the structure and build a new public works complex on the same property for a little less than $500,000.

The borough would repay the cost over seven years, he said.

"I do want you to understand that it is one of our highest priorities to try to achieve," he told Wilson. "But we also want to achieve it in a way that doesn’t destabilize the borough’s ability to pay the bills."