Pottsville has 30 days to turn over records it has over the gaping hole on Progress Avenue.
The Pennsylvania Office of Open Records ruled this week that the city needs to turn over “reports, inspections, bids, appraisals, etc. regarding the cause, maintenance and collapse of the underground waterway, storm drainage, culverts, pipes, or stone archway under or near the intersection of Progress Avenue and Harrison Street” … “prior to collapse in or around August 2018.”
OOR made this ruling because it’s only heard from the city once since April 26. That’s when an attorney with an office near the hole site, Anthony Urban, filed a Right to Know request seeking the records listed above.
Three days after Urban made that request, the City used its right to ask for 30 days to respond. After those 30 days passed, and the City didn’t produce the records, Urban could consider his request denied, OOR says.
Pottsville Mum On Progress Avenue Hole in Ground
So, on June 12, Urban filed an appeal with OOR in Harrisburg.
“The OOR invited both parties to supplement the record and directed the City to notify any third parties of their ability to participate in this appeal pursuant to 65 P.S. § 67.1101(c). The City did not make a submission in this matter,” the OOR ruling reads.
“The City did not comply with the RTKL by timely responding to the Request, nor did it provide any factual or legal support for denying access to responsive records.”
If Pottsville wants to appeal this decision rather than produce the records, it can in Schuylkill County Court of Common Pleas within 30 days. Urban can appeal the OOR decision, too, but that seems unlikely.
A Day After the 2018 Flood
The water receded in Pottsville from the Great Flood of 2018 pretty quickly. And it exposed a major problem. An underground stream covered by Progress Avenue burst through the street and flooded much of the area from the Giant Supermarket to where it meets the Schuylkill River.
The following day, someone made sure the word got out that work was underway to fix Progress Avenue. Chain-link fencing surrounded the affected area and some initial site work was completed.
But then it stopped. And the fencing stayed. Now, we use part of the Giant parking lot as a Progress Avenue detour.
And nearly a year later, the City is ignoring requests to produce any kind of record on this issue.