In the recent primary election, New Castle residents decided that Mayor Anthony Mastrangelo would not return for a fourth term. Come January, he will turn the keys to his office over to either Democrat Mark Elisco or Republican Chris Frye.
Before that happens, we want to thank him for the countless hours and relentless effort he put into leading the city. Think it’s easy to be mayor, especially one whose city must deal with the rigors of Act 47 status? No way — and this is a man who chose to stand up to the challenges for 12 years, and was willing to make it 16.
Mastrangelo is proud of the progress the city made under his administration. During the New Visions candidate forum at The Confluence, he noted that during his time in office, the city’s reserve account went from $250 to $2.6 million, and that its debt service dropped from $75 million to $32 million.
Just prior to the election, Mastrangelo announced that he had concluded his long-sought-after sale of the former St. Francis Hospital.
In the end, though, whatever Mastrangelo’s accomplishments, city residents said they wanted more, and they voted for change to pursue it.
Still, we believe Mastrangelo always had the best interests of the city at heart. And with that in mind, we urge him to drop his quest to halt the construction of a Dollar General on Highland Avenue.
We’re not weighing in on whether the building of the store is or isn’t a good idea because that is no longer the issue. After series of public hearings and meetings, city council voted 3-2 to amend the city’s zoning map and ordinance to create an overlay that would allow the store to be built. Mastrangelo joined other residents of the neighborhood in expressing personal objections to the idea, and shortly after the council vote, vetoed the decision.
There was just one problem. He did not have the authority to do so.
That was the ruling handed down by county common pleas court judge John W. Hodge, when PennTex Ventures LLC — the company behind the proposed construction — filed suit to contest the rejection.
Now, though, the mayor has appealed that ruling, and the battle rages on, costing the city time and legal fees on both sides of the argument. With New Castle under the gun to come up with a three-year plan to exit Act 47 by the end of the year, we wonder if continuing to hammer away at a matter that already has received favorable rulings from both city council and commonwealth court is the best way for city government to be spending the time on a ticking clock.
Kenny Rogers once observed that “you’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.” We admire the mayor’s determination to navigate heavy seas for a cause he believes in. But there there are much larger waves rolling in, and we suggest it’s time to abandon that ship and board a bigger boat.