La Festa to Renovate Electric City Sign

picture-0571One of downtown Scranton’s largest events is coming to the rescue of one of its most iconic landmarks.

La Festa Italiana of Lackawanna County will contribute up to $10,000 to renovate the Electric City sign overlooking Courthouse Square before the annual Labor Day weekend celebration of Italian culture and cuisine.

Chris DiMattio, La Festa president and chairman, said the organization looks for community projects it can take on and thought the Electric City sign would be a natural.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/la-festa-to-renovate-electric-city-sign-1.1712363

Scranton’s Parking-Garage Rates Won’t Decrease; Chamber Seeks Parking Input

As Scranton leaders are considering increasing hours, days and rates of downtown parking meters, some business owners want to see the city’s parking-garage rates reduced.

However, the court-appointed receiver in charge of the garages and their rates, Mike Washo, said he has no plans to lower garage rates, because a reduction would drain revenue from the authority and further burden city taxpayers to fund any shortfall that may arise from reduced rates.

“We don’t believe that any reduction in parking garage rates at this time will generate additional customers to justify the reduction in rates,” Mr. Washo said. “At the end of the day, we’ll end up with less revenue.”

In recent weeks, a plan by Scranton’s mayor and city council to hire a private firm, Standard Parking, to manage the city’s on-street parking meters has raised numerous questions and concerns among downtown businesses, residents and council members.  Citing Standard Parking’s estimates, council members think the city can net an additional $1.8 million a year by switching parking-meter management from the inactive Scranton Parking Authority to Standard Parking.  Under this plan, which was tabled Feb. 7 by council, meter hours would extend from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.  Ten-hour meters also would increase from $1 an hour to $1.50 an hour.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-s-parking-garage-rates-won-t-decrease-chamber-seeks-parking-input-1.1444474

Chris Kelly: How Can Scranton Find A Talented Mayor For $50G?

picture-0571Editor’s note:  And sometimes people are grossly overpaid and get lousy results, but we won’t name any names.  And sometimes you do a national search for qualified candidates (that was funded by tax dollars), offer a huge salary to attract the cream of the crop and then STILL give the job to your best pal with almost no hands-on experience.

HELP WANTED: CEO for financially distressed 146-year-old limited partnership drowning in long-term debt and enough past-due bills to choke a goat.  Successful applicant will be responsible for managing the needs, wants, safety and endless complaints of 74,000 customers while juggling chronic deficits, anemic revenues, suffocating union contracts and crippling legacy costs using a business model that hasn’t evolved since the advent of indoor plumbing.  ANNUAL SALARY: $50,000.  Seriously.  That is not a typo.

Mayor Chris Doherty’s recent announcement that he will not seek a fourth term as the CEO of Scranton was as anticlimactic as the average January sunset – bleak blue beams bleeding into blackness.  Anyone with a calendar saw it coming.

Eleven years into Mr. Doherty’s reign, the Electric City remains powered more by wishful thinking than objective reality.  More than 20 years after it blundered into the roach motel that is the state’s Act 47 Distressed Cities Recovery program, Scranton is still stuck.  Mr. Doherty promised escape from distressed status by the end of his first term.  He failed, but he had a lot of help.

Read more:   http://thetimes-tribune.com/opinion/editorials-columns/christopher-j-kelly/chris-kelly-how-can-scranton-find-a-talented-mayor-for-50g-1.1428801

Annual First Night Celebrates City’s Diversity New Year’s Eve In Downtown Scranton

picture-0571The tradition of kicking off the new year with a bang – not to mention a little music, magic and more – remains alive and well in the Electric City.

For the 14th consecutive year, First Night Scranton will draw visitors to the city’s downtown, where a slew of venues will host activities and live performances on New Year’s Eve.

This year’s family-friendly event will bring attention to Scranton’s diversity through the theme “New Year’s Eve Around the World.”

“What we kind of focused on was how the ethnicity of the city is evolving and changing,” First Night project director Paige Balitski said.  “And we thought, you know, we should revisit what ethnicities were in the beginning of Scranton and what it’s changing into and adding to all of that.”

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/lifestyles-people/annual-first-night-celebrates-city-s-diversity-new-year-s-eve-in-downtown-scranton-1.1421404

Scranton PA – Electric City Building Boom Defies The Recession

Scranton

Image via Wikipedia

Normally, when we think of boom towns, Scranton is not generally at the top of the list.  For decades Scranton has struggled with declining population and employment, as the area dealt with the death of “King Coal” and huge manufacturing losses.

Yet despite a major nationwide economic downturn, Scranton is in the middle of a building boom.  Another unusual factor is that this boom is primarily in center city.  Most cities are not seeing growth in their downtown areas.  Usually growth is occurring in the suburbs.

There are four major projects being built in Scranton that total more than $260 million dollars!  That’s not a small chunk of change for a city of 72,000 residents.  Heck, that’s not a small chunk of change for a larger city!

The projects include:

Construction of the Commonwealth Medical College - $120 million dollars

Several building projects at the University of Scranton – $116 million dollars

Connell Building renovation – $23 million dollars

Tobyhanna Army Deport Federal Credit Union headquarters construction - $4 million dollars

This is encouraging news for NEPA!  1,400+ workers in the building trades are finding employment during this frenzy of activity in Scranton.  These employers will add permanent jobs that will continue to benefit Scranton for years to come.