Carbondale City Council voted on November 16 to transfer several properties to the Carbondale Redevelopment Authority, which will in turn transfer them to developer Daniel Siniawa for the Pioneer Plaza project.


By Tom Flannery
City Council voted last week to transfer several properties to the Carbondale Redevelopment Authority, which will in turn transfer them to developer Daniel Siniawa for the Pioneer Plaza project.
The properties are located at 25, 31, 33, 35 and 37 South Main St.;  12, 14 , 18 and 20 South Church St.;  16 Rear 6th Ave.;  and 55 7th Avenue.
The city paid $1.1 million to acquire the parcels for the planned plaza.  Siniawa has agreed to pay the city $150,000 for them, once ownership of the properties is transferred over to him.
Councilman Dr. Joseph Marzzacco asked solicitor Atty. Frank Ruggiero if the city’s contract with Siniawa ensures that the city will recoup the $1.1 million spent on those properties from him if he doesn’t go through with the project.
Ruggiero replied that the city can recoup the entire $1.1 million in the event the project doesn’t materialize, as long as the city transfers ownership of the properties to Siniawa.  Otherwise, he noted that Siniawa would be able to argue in court that he didn’t do the project because the properties weren’t transferred to him by the city.  In that case, he said the city may be left holding the bag.
Ruggiero also pointed out that while the city cannot legally transfer ownership of the properties directly to Siniawa, the Redevelopment Authority is able to do so.  The city, he said, would have to solicit bids for the parcels.
Council voted 4-1 to turn the properties over to the Redevelopment Authority, so the authority can then transfer ownership of them to Siniawa.  Councilman Francis Lagana opposed the motion, explaining that he has “voted ‘no’ on the project all along” and wanted to remain consistent.  Council president Kathleen Connor and Councilman Eric Farrell were not in attendance.
In another matter at the meeting, code enforcement officer Chris Melodia told council that Paul Mastrangelo, owner of the crumbling Masonic Temple building on Salem Ave., is cooperating with the city to have the structure razed. 
A portion of the Masonic Temple fell to the sidewalk below in 2006, at which point the city condemned the building.  Mastrangelo served six months for contempt in county prison last year after failing to comply with a judge’s order to get the demolition process underway.
Last month, he was sentenced to two years in prison for contempt after refusing to take responsibility for his building.  However, that sentence was suspended when he offered to sell a house he owns in Whites Crossing and use the proceeds from that sale to pay for the Masonic Temple demolition.
Melodia told council that Mastrangelo has made promises in the past but then failed to follow through.
“He puts on a good show,” Melodia noted.  “Hopefully this isn’t just another good show.”
Ruggiero said there’s reason to believe that he’s serious this time.
“He’s got two years [in prison] hanging over his head,” Ruggiero related.
Melodia agreed, telling the NEWS:  “If at any point we feel that Mr. Mastrangelo has abandoned his efforts to resolve this situation, we can ask the judge to reimpose his prison sentence.”
In other matters at last week’s meeting:
•Mayor Justin Taylor administered the oath of office to local students Aaron Levine, Charles Puza, Rachel Konzman, and William Moorehead, who will serve as Junior Council members this school year;
•council scheduled a public hearing on the 2010 city budget for 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 7;
•council approved the use of city facilities for the annual “Christmas In A Small Town” celebration on Saturday, Dec. 5, including the use of City Hall, the Pioneer City Train Station, and Main St. for a night parade expected to last about half an hour.