JMHA hears energy update

STEUBENVILLE – The Jefferson Metropolitan Housing Authority board of commissioners learned Wednesday a $5.8 million energy improvement project is still awaiting approval by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Andrew Why of the Tenth Avenue Group of Aliquippa, Pa., said the HUD energy office has been overwhelmed with submitted energy projects and has subcontracted the proposed projects to contractors for review.

“The HUD energy office doesn’t have enough staff to review all of the proposed projects. There is nothing wrong with our proposed project. I believe we will have final HUD approval by the March 27 board meeting or, in the worse case scenario, by the April board meeting,” said Why.

“We are looking at savings in lighting, water leaks, putting in new windows at six different sites, new hot water heaters, an energy recovery system, new furnaces and heat pumps in some locations as well as some new refrigerators and insulation,” Why said in January.

“We have a weekly conference call with the people reviewing the project. We have also sent request for proposals to eight lending institutions for the financing of the project. I will be reviewing the RFPs with Joe Costantini (JMHA executive director) and will present to the board what we believe is the best financing package,” said Why.

“We are very pleased with the interest rates we have received in the RFPs,” added Why.

In other business during the monthly meeting, Costantini said he still is waiting for approval from HUD on the disposition of five scattered JMHA-owned sites.

“We were scheduled to have a ribbon cutting last week for the Washington Square apartments but it was delayed because of the weather. We still don’t own the building, and the Neighborhood Development Services have asked us to consider leasing the building so we can start filling the apartments with tenants. Gerald DiLoreto has asked Mike Florak of the Franciscan University of Steubenville community office to meet with us regarding university students living in the apartment building,” said Costantini.

“And I have been in contact with the Jefferson County Veterans Commission about housing for military veterans as well,” said DiLoreto.

“We worked with NDS to establish the rental rates. NDS did a very good renovation job. We felt if we didn’t do this, the building might have been torn down or became the property of an absentee landlord. I think this was a good decision,” noted Costantini.

Costantini reported a recent federal inspection of the Gaylord Towers ended with a 67 rating score.

“We did well on the inspection but lost 16 points out of 100 because a sprinkler system head was missing a part that did not affect the operation of the sprinkler,” said Costantini.

The board met in executive session with private security consultant Jim Mavromatis to discuss personnel and security issues.