North Strabane prepares for new municipal complex

Barbara S. Miller
Observer Reporter

Washington County’s fastest-growing municipality finds its workforce has outstripped the size of its governmental base of operations, so 40 years after North Strabane opened its municipal building at 1929 Route 519, the township is preparing for major changes and expansion at its 80-acre complex.

“We’ve just simply outgrown the building,” said Frank Siffrin, township manager.

Three buildings – one for the police and fire departments plus the district judge, another for public works and the third for administrative offices and public meetings – are planned for 2019.

The estimated cost, including changes to Route 519 such as a traffic light and turning lane done in conjunction with the development of the more than 100 homes of a proposed residential development called Legacy Park, will be about $25 million, according to Siffrin. The project will be financed by extending a current bond issue that was used in 2012 for construction of the municipal park.

A timetable calls for the township to seek construction bids early next year, with earth-moving to begin in late winter or early spring, weather permitting. Once the building project and moving are completed, the current municipal building will be demolished.

The public works building, a steel structure placed on a concrete slab, is slated to stand on a softball field that will be relocated to McDowell Lane property for which the township has a 99-year lease with Canon-McMillan School District. The township’s main fire department, which has, for decades, stood along Route 19 between Weavertown and McClelland roads, will move to the municipal complex. North Strabane has a substation at Meadows Racetrack & Casino, and Siffrin expects the township’s volunteer fire company to eventually purchase property in the vicinity of Eighty Four to establish another substation.

“We’re still in the concept phase,” Siffrin said. “We agree on footprints.”

One change that came out of a meeting Thursday night is to have a two-story municipal building instead of a single-story structure. Three members of the five-member board of supervisors voted 3-1 to include officers for the supervisors in the building. Voting in favor of the proposal were Supervisors’ Vice Chairman Robert Balogh and Supervisors Bob Ross and Marcus Stanley. Chairman Brian Spicer voted against the proposal, and Supervisor Sonia Stopperich Sulc was absent.

North Strabane’s population, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, was 13,408, a 33.3 percent increase from 2000, when it was 10,057. The township expects the trend to continue, projecting an increase to nearly 20,000 when the 2020 census is conducted.