Clarks Summit Council Approves Lease, Announces Public Support for the Gathering Place

“[The AACC] will bring a lot of improvement to the [first floor of the Clarks Summit Borough Building], and our residents will use it.”
– Councilwoman Patty Lawler

From The Scranton Times, August 28, 2013

Clarks Summit council approves lease, allowing nonprofit to move forward with renovation project

Published: August 28, 2013

CLARKS SUMMIT – A nonprofit’s long-stalled project to transform the Borough Building’s vacant space into a community art and education center moved forward on Tuesday.

Clarks Summit Borough Council unanimously approved a five-year lease – which could extend to 20 years – with the Abington Area Community Classroom, allowing the nonprofit to proceed with its plans to revamp 3,000 square feet along the Borough Building’s first floor.

The vacant space previously housed the Clarks Summit Fire Department, officials said.

Under the current design, the Gathering Place will be split into at least four sections: the classroom, art studio, gallery room and gathering area, community classroom member Mary Ann Nichols said.

It will include a coffee bar and bakery, and serve as a venue for local artists, musicians and authors and an outlet for other community organizations – such as the Abington Community Library – to host fundraisers, according to documents provided at the meeting.

Before renovating the building, the nonprofit plans to launch a capital campaign to raise the $300,000 needed for construction. The money must be raised by Dec. 31, 2014, or else the agreement is void, according to a clause in the lease.

“They will bring a lot of improvement to the downstairs, and our residents will use it,” Councilwoman Patty Lawler said.

While occupying the space, the nonprofit will cover expenses of utilities “downstairs,” Borough Manager Virginia Kehoe said.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, borough council voted 5-1 to make borough secretary Jennifer Basalyga-Schmidt responsible for sewer billing. Councilman Patrick Williams voted no.

Effective Oct. 1, Ms. Basalyga-Schmidt will complete her normal office work during her regular hours: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. She will also be responsible for managing the sewer billing on her own time.

Officials haven’t finalized her contract, but Ms. Basalyga-Schmidt will be salaried, Ms. Kehoe said. The move, switching from an outside agency to Ms. Basalyga-Schmidt, could save the borough about $12,000 a year, estimated Ms. Kehoe said.

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Read the article on the Scranton Times website.