Harrisburg’s city council is considering a move that may help relieve a sinkhole issue that just keeps on getting bigger and bigger.
Barricades, heavy equipment and a cavernous sinkhole have now become a part of the landscape on the 2100 block of N. 4th Street for about a month and a half now.
“We are waiting,” said Ramatou Saley, who lives on 4th Street. “We are waiting. It’s very difficult.”
Monday, Public Works Director Kevin Hagerich, along with other department heads, asked the city council to vote on a resolution to move forward with a process to apply for $1.7 million in funding to repair the 4th street sinkhole and a second one forming at 3rd and Woodbine.
If approved, the city could apply for the money through PENNVEST, a state loan and grant program that can be used to pay for public infrastructure projects.
“If we don’t come up with a funding source, we’re not going to be able to react,” Hagerich said. “So we’re looking at this loan, grant as our ability to react to a bigger problem before it becomes a collapse.”
But council member Sandra Reed questioned how the money would be paid back if it was more loan than grant.
“You’re looking at, extending us into another debt credit situation,” Reed told Hagerich. “For either a short-term, one to two or two to ten year time frame.”
Officials from the Harrisburg Authority are hoping council members vote yes. Harrisburg Authority funds would be used if the city doesn’t have enough money to pay for the sinkhole repairs.
“I think it’s a good opportunity and quite frankly, something that the city needs to do to be prepared in case they don’t have the funds on hand,” said Shannon Williams, Harrisburg Authority Executive Director.
Hagerich told the council that the cost to fix the 4th street sinkhole could completely wipe out the Department of Public Works budget for the rest of the year.
Even if the council approves the resolution and the city moves forward with its application to PENNVEST, there’s no guarantee the city would be awarded the funds.