Zelie to upgrade phone app for residents

Council also making plans for third phase of Streetscape

September 2, 2020 Cranberry Living

Zelienople Borough Council at Monday's meeting agreed to upgrade a borough phone application and eyed advancing further into its Streetscape project.

The borough council approved two measures regarding its SeeClickFix phone application, which allows borough residents to make requests and complaints through the medium.

During public comment, Dan Fritch, a local business owner, said he liked the current functionality of the app, and he sees potential in an upgraded version.

“I really think that'll be a good resource,” Fritch said.

Don Pepe, Zelienople Borough manager, said the app originally replaced a system of paper filing requests by the public to fix things around the borough, such as roadwork. Through the app, the requests are filed digitally and directly to the needed department.

“All that is tracked automatically, so we can pull up reports each and every day to say where are we on all these things,” Pepe said.

Once upgraded, the app will allow for features that will not only benefit those who live in the borough, but also supply visitors with information and highlights about the borough. “The biggest benefit is it's easier to find us in the app store,” said Cindy Edwards, the borough's systems administrator. “There's also customer branding and additional backgrounds and colors we can use.”

Borough council also expressed excitement about moving forward with the third phase of its Streetscape project. The overall project involves moving utility infrastructure on Main Street underground, invisible to anyone standing on the street. The project has been broken into multiple phases with each phase including one portion of the Main Street corridor.

“It allows us to remove the electronic jumble that is overhead,” Pepe said. “It's been a mess for decades.”

Work has been completed from the intersections of New Castle to Spring streets, and the second phase from Spring to Beaver streets has already been contracted and will begin soon.

With this in mind, the third phase approaches, and council approved to begin applying for various grants. The council also began discussions Monday with representatives from Crown Castle.

Crown Castle is a telecommunications company that has infrastructure along Main Street in the shape of metallic boxes that sit on the sidewalk near utility poles.

In an agreement with the borough five years ago, the company agreed to work with council on a more aesthetic option.

“What we'd look to do is put up a new pole, what you'd call a decorative pole,” said Don Ritter of Crown Castle. “There would be stealthy equipment in the pole.”

Council member Gregg Semel led the discussion with some questions and comments on council's behalf.

“I really think the elimination of poles instead of adding poles is what we're striving for,” he said.

Council approved to table a motion that called for the renewal of the five-year agreement for the company to use the right of way. Semel and other council members said they wanted to see the company's plans for remodeling the infrastructure before they made a decision.

Also at Monday's meeting, council received an official request from the Harmony Fire District, requesting that all four of the municipalities in its service area increase its fire department tax levy to 3 mills.

According to Pepe, Zelienople's version of the tax currently sits at 2 mills. He said the borough could increase the tax with a .5 mill increase in two consecutive years or a 1 mill increase in one year.

“That millage, if passed, wouldn't come into effect until 2021,” Pepe said.

Council did not approve a tax increase Monday, but approved a motion to convey support for the idea as long as the other municipalities also signed on for the increase.

One mill equals one dollar for every $1,000 of a home's assessed value. According to Pepe, one mill in Zelienople borough amounts to about $26,000.

Nathan Bottiger

Nathan Bottiger

Nathan Bottiger graduated with a degree in journalism in 2015 from Pitt-Johnstown. A business reporter, he also covers Slippery Rock borough, township and school district.