Redevelopment authority seeks improved maintenance

The Altona Redevelopment Authority is fixing to maintain its Transportation Center by giving federal money a little ride.

The authority has struggled to take care of the Transportation Center for years with rental income it generates from Amtrak, Greyhound and other tenants, whose identities change periodically.

On Friday, the authority approved a deal by which the city will pay $12,000 from its Community Development Block Grant funding as rent for its demolition crew to continue to use an East End garage owned by the authority – so the authority in turn can use the money to bring Transportation Center maintenance up to speed.

Rental charges for property not owned by the city is an eligible CDBG expense, said city Planning Director Lee Slusser.

Transportation Center maintenance is not.

But once the authority receives the rent money, “it can be used for anything,” including Transportation Center maintenance, said Slusser, whose department handles the demolition program, the CDBG program that pays for it and authority operations.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, which allocates CDBG money, has approved the maneuver, which was proposed by CDBG Manager Mary Johnson, Slusser said.

The authority has increased Transportation Center rents in recent years, enough that it made a profit of $741 last year at the center.

But the facility needs new light fixtures, said Jean Cupp, accounting manager for the planning office.

“It’s poorly lit,” Slusser said. “A dark welcome to Altoona.”

The center also needs painted, Cupp said.

The center was the site of 42,600 “boardings and alightings” in 2011, according to Slusser. That is about six times as many trips as Blair County Airport, he said, citing statistics.

About 58 percent of the Transportation Center trips were on Amtrak, while the rest were on Greyhound, Slusser said.