OC Council updated on time frames for work on bridge, crossings

Oil City Council members heard an update at their meeting Thursday on work scheduled this summer on the railroad crossings at Center and Elm streets.

That is one of the improvements that will snarl traffic in the downtown this summer.

Work on both crossings has been pushed back from June to July by the Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad, city manager Mark Schroyer said.

The work on the Center Street crossing by Taco Shack is slated to begin the second week of July and last four or five days.

“The railroad plans to begin preparations on Saturday night or Sunday night. They hope to out of there by Thursday night or Friday at the latest,” Schroyer said.

The Elm Street crossing between McDonalds and City Hall is scheduled for the later part of July or beginning of August.

The railroad had been looking at doing the work the week of the Oil Heritage Festival, which is scheduled July 24-28 this year, but they were told that wasn’t going to work, Schroyer said.

The railroad has figured out a way to accommodate truck traffic going to the industrial park in Siverly while they work on the crossings, he said.

The railroad crossing work will not affect the work on Veterans Bridge, which will likely be closed from June to September by PennDOT for repairs, Schroyer said.

A public hearing about the street closings and detours due to the bridge closure is tentatively being scheduled for 6 p.m. after the May 23 council meeting. Schroyer said notices will be sent to businesses and others impacted by the work.

In other business at Thursday’s council meeting, it was announced that Oil City was selected by Domino’s Pizza as a partner in the franchise’s Plowing for Pizza Program, a public relations campaign through which Domino’s cuts checks to various municipalities to be used for winter road maintenance, Schroyer said.

Several citizens nominated Oil City for the program and the city was selected to receive $25,000 to be used for winter maintenance, Schroyer said.

He added that Oil City plans to use the money to buy salt.

Schroyer said there is no catch to the PR endeavor and the city will also receive Domino’s swag for city employees. In return, the pizza shop would like photos of the employees wearing the Domino’s merchandise.

“I’m glad to see a chain giving back to the community,” councilman Mike Walentosky said.

In another matter, councilman Dale Massie said council members were given a tour of the 100 Seneca building this week.

“It’s amazing, I’ve been on many tours of that building and I’m amazed at all the progress they have made,” Massie said. “There is now a working elevator that goes all the way to the fifth floor and vats for making beer.”

“It’s going to happen. It’s been a long time coming, but now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I promise you,” Massie added.

Councilman Ron Gustafson chimed in and said “I just want to express my gratitude to the people who raised all the grant money. It would have been spent somewhere else otherwise.”

Music on Square is a go

Elsewhere, council approved this year’s Music on the Square schedule for a number of Thursdays from June to September.

Stevette Rosen, the new Oil City Main Street manager, said the Town Square concerts are still a go this year even with the Veterans Bridge closure.

In response to questions, Rosen said the Oil City Elks Club still plans to hold dinners in conjunction with the concerts, so the Elks is also requesting the block of Sycamore Street in front of the club be shut down during the concerts as in previous years.

Rosen also told council one of her goals this year is to really “beef up” Oil City’s curb market on Thursdays with live music.

– An auction for the salvageable contents of the former Days Inn Hotel is planned for May 11. The auctioneer is working on organizing the saleable items in the hotel, Schroyer added.

– The city is looking at about $600,000 in street paving this year. The street list has been “pretty well finalized” and will be on the agenda for approval next month before the project is put out to bid.

– Council approved accepting the low bid of $22,130 from Bert Klapec Inc. for the demolition of 60 Plummer St. and 107 Siverly Ave., both of which are owned by the city.

The demolitions will be paid for through 2021 Community Development Block Grant funds, Kelly Ryen, the city’s director of community development, said.

Schroyer said these are the last houses on the city’s list to demolish, so they will be looking at their demolition program and coming up with a game plan for future demolitions of blighted properties.