Beaver Falls Announces Several Grants & Property Purchases At Packed Council Meeting

(Matt Drzik/Beaver County Radio)

Sometimes “business as usual” can draw an unusually large crowd.

The city of Beaver Falls held their second meeting of 2023 at the city building on Tuesday night, doing so in front of a standing-room-only gathering of citizens. Several of the citizens were students from Beaver Falls High School attending for a class project, but the majority of citizens in attendance were there to show improvements in the city–or challenge whether improvement is taking place.

Council itself went through the standard agenda, starting off by approving demolition of 804 3rd Avenue per the Reclaim Project and approving General Fund expenditures of $382,215.53. The Asset Purchase Agreement of the city’s wastewater treatment plant was also ratified, opening up the plant for sale to a purchaser.

Two properties were approved for purchase by Darren Cole, who is currently a firefighter for the Beaver Falls Fire Department. Another two properties were approved through repository purchase for renovation by Martin Cleckley Sr. and Martin Cleckley Jr. All four properties were approved unanimously by council.

City manager Charles Jones sought council’s approval for two grants to be sought: an AARP Community Challenge grant and a CDBG Grant specifically for 5th Avenue Park. Both were approved by council, greenlighting the city to pursue applications for the grants. Jones also announced that the city was approved for a $200,000 grant for 2nd Avenue Park, and stated that the Library Park’s construction is sought to be completed by spring.

Fire Chief Mark Stowe also is pursuing grants for his department, including the Assistance To Firefighters Grant through FEMA. Stowe explained that the SCBA units that allow the firefighters to breathe need to be renewed, as seven units are out of service and the remainder are approaching expiration. “They’re just worn out to the point where it doesn’t pay to have them fixed anymore,” Stowe stated. “So, we are in absolute dire need for these.” The grant would be for $210,000 to replace the SCBA units.

Tigerland Inc. secretary Jen Cunningham questioned the council on their decision to pull out of the transfer agreement for the wave pool, after Mayor Kenya Johns announced the decision at the beginning. Cunningham accused the city of “giving the keys” for the wave pool to Tigerland Inc., only for the cooperation to dissipate to its current stage. Shannon Steele, the solicitor of Beaver Falls, spoke about the decision on behalf of the council.

“I have had discussions with your council,” Steele said. “After the most recent correspondence that I received, where Tigerland made a proposal and said they would only sign an agreement with certain conditions; when I shared that with my council tonight, those conditions would not be in the best interest of the city in their opinion. If your council wants to continue discussions with me, we can certainly do that with regard to moving forward in any capacity from Tigerland to the city. But I will tell you…the city’s property is the city’s property.”

The next Beaver Falls City Council meeting is scheduled for February 14 at 7:00 PM.