Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sen. Armstrong honored; landlords to be held accountable

Former State Senator Gibson E. Armstrong, along with much of his staff, and current State Senator Lloyd K. Smucker attended the Jan. 27th Lancaster City Council meeting.

Mayor J. Richard Gray presented an official commendation to Armstrong, citing his service to the City of Lancaster, as well as to the rest of Pennsylvania. Specifically noted were Armstrong's efforts to create and pass "Act 23", and his work toward improving municipal services.

Mayor Gray described Armstrong as a "steadfast proponent of the City of Lancaster". Special praise was given to Armstrong's support of State funding for the hotel and convention center project, Clipper Magazine Stadium, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Music. In response, former Sen. Armstrong called Lancaster "one of the best cities in the United States", and said "the best days are ahead for us".

A slide presentation was made by Lancaster City Public Works Director Charlotte Katzenmoyer, describing a number of "Public Space Improvement Projects" which are or will shortly be underway. These include the demolition and renovation of Lancaster Square, which is progressing; the "Streetscape District" improvements, of which phase one out of five has begun; and the rebuilding of the "Historic Quadrant" of Penn Square, which will repave and upgrade the area around Central Market.

Eventually, the northwest section of Penn Square will also be improved, using a stylized motif echoing the lines of the adjoining Griest Building, overlaid with a pattern intended to mimic the meandering Conestoga Creek. Also noted were the ongoing upgrades and renovations to the Central Market, which are funded with State grant money, and will include renovations to the public restrooms.

New business included the first reading of Administration Bill 1 of 2009, which adds stricter accountability and penalties to both the owners and tenants of rental properties, while clarifying numerous existing regulations. Two Lancaster City residents spoke generally in favor of this proposal, while expressing several concerns; a third resident questioned the fairness of rental licensing fees, and how this revenue will be distributed.

This rental property bill will be discussed in detail at the City Council Committee Meetings, which are open to the public, to be held on Monday, Feb. 2 at 6:00 PM in Conference Room # 1 of the Southern Market. A final vote on this proposed ordinance will be taken at a future City Council meeting.