Shamokin PA

Troubles over Kulpmont footbridge project

KULPMONT — Borough council approved a motion Tuesday night to pay $5,000 to build a pedestrian footbridge connecting Seventh and Fir streets to Veterans Memorial Field with a flat deck for ADA accessibility, acting in response to a letter from Stephen Bielskie.

Bielskie, who won a seat on the next council during the May primary, wrote in the Sept. 8 letter about issues with the 51-foot Quaker Run pedestrian footbridge. Bielskie claimed the bridge is not ADA compliant, cited issues with the use of dirt bikes and ATVs on the structure and potential copyright infringement regarding its design.

The bridge is part of a field renovation project led by Councilman Stephen Motyka, who has raised more than $10,000 in donations for benches around a walking path at Veterans Field that is part of the overall project. Motyka addressed Bielskie’s concerns by referencing a 2015 ICC code addressing recreation areas.

Motyka said the code states only one side of the bridge must be available for handicapped persons to access. He believes Bielskie’s accessibility concerns don’t apply to the footbridge because it is handicap accessible from the field side.

The slope of the bridge can also be lowered and an extra flat deck can be added to meet additional ADA compliances, but Motyka said it would add an estimated $2,000 to the cost, which is estimated at about $10,000 now.

Council previously approved spending $2,000 to $2,500 to acquire a Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) crossing permit that was just granted, and Motyka had estimated materials at $8,000. He said all labor will be donated.

He addressed the potential “daredevils” on motorbikes and ATVs using the bridge as a ramp to jump off of by telling Bielskie that he “can play scared and say kids are going to ruin this,” but applying that thinking to projects would tie the borough’s hands in trying to make any improvements.

In regard to the bridge design copyright, Motyka said he had purchased the “Rainbow Bridge” design for $25.

Bielskie and Councilman Walter Lutz argued federal law states any municipal structure requires ADA accessibility as well as any project funded with public money.

Motyka and President Bruno Varano said they haven’t read language stating use of public money dictates ADA requirements. Motyka also said there is around $2,000 remaining from field renovation donations, and Walmart provided the borough with a $1,000 grant toward the project.

Varano made a motion for the borough to spend $5,000 to finish the bridge with the flat deck, and the motion was passed 4-1, with Lutz casting the dissenting vote.

Nicholas Goretski III and Richard Zigarski were absent from the meeting.