New Castle seal

New Castle seal

New Castle city council unanimously approved a property lien waiver for DON Services during their Thursday night meeting.

"I went on and on on Tuesday about this but, I thought about it, and I recognized for the good of the community and the good work that DON does," Councilwoman MaryAnne Gavrile said. "I had a change of thought about this and change the way that I would vote because I do appreciate everything that DON is doing."

Attorney Phil Berezniak, a representative from DON, appeared before council at Tuesday's caucus meeting to ask for a $6,890 lien on a vacant lot on Ray Street to be waived as a part of the organization's neighborhood revitalization project on the Lower East Side.

He was met with hesitance.

“It is my humble opinion that this is taxpayers’ dollars that tore this (the home) down,” Gavrile said Tuesday. “So thus, I’m not certain how we can waive that.”

Although DON did receive a $1 million grant in order to continue the Lower East Side project by building nine new homes, none of those funds can be used for property acquisition. 

After receiving an email from DON’s executive vice president of community resources and development Court Hower, Gavrile was made aware of two and possibly three homes DON would demolish at their own expense.

According to council President Tom Smith, that could potentially save the city approximately $20,000 in demolition costs, and compared the arrangement to an "in-kind contribution."

Before the vote, Smith asked Assistant Solicitor Johnathan Miller to explain his legal opinion on the matter.

"We do think, at least from an economic standpoint, the construction of the new home on that property and its long-term ability to generate revenue for the city with it being on the tax rolls is beneficial," said Miller, who called collecting the lien at all would be a "challenge." 

"Where else are we having new construction, but from DON Enterprises?" asked Gavrile.

Council also approved all 25 proposed amendments to the 2020 adopted budget 

Some of the amendments include increasing paving funds by $35,000, buying license plate readers for the police and reducing the salaries for the mayor's administrative assistant, the community and economic development coordinator and the city's new solicitor.

The addition of all of the amendments is revenue neutral.

In other news:

•A conditional use request for a cell phone tower near George Washington Intermediate School was unanimously denied.

•The appointment of Ronald Davis to the Zoning Hearing Board of Appeals was approved.

•Attorney William Flannery was retained for special litigation. 

•Requests to go out to bid for Superpave Hot Mix, road salt and the sale or lease of the municipal-owned parking garage and parking lots were approved. Mayor Chris Frye noted he contacted the city's Act 47 coordinator who told him the budget projects the garage will make $84,000 in net revenue this year.

•Creating a "no parking zone" on Federal Street and creating a "handicap parking only" space in front of 925 Temple Ave. were approved. 


Maria Basileo is a news reporter. She covers Laurel and Shenango school boards and municipal government.

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