TOWANDA - The first phase of the construction of the Bradford County Veterans Memorial Park in Towanda can go forward at this time, the Towanda Borough Council decided on Monday.

The council voted Monday to accept Middendorf Contracting of Towanda's $62,650 bid to construct the first phase of the development of the park, subject to Middendorf providing certain paperwork to the borough.

The first phase of the project, which will consists of an array of flagpoles mounted on a retaining wall, is expected to get underway later this month.

Middendorf's bid was the lowest of the four bids that were submitted to do the first phase. The park will be constructed on a borough-owned parcel bordered by state Route 2027, U.S. Route 6, the Merrill Parkway and the Robert Farley Connector.

Towanda Police Chief Randy Epler reported on vandalism that has been taking place this year at the Towanda Police Department's shooting range at the old landfill site on Bridge Street.

Vandals have kicked in the door of a storage shed at the site, and have fired a shotgun round at the shed, Epler said. Vandals have also destroyed several 4-by-4 barricade posts at site by mounting targets on them and shooting at the targets, he said.

The council discussed various ways to curb the vandalism, including changing the lock at the gate.

For the traffic light at the intersection of Bridge and Main streets, where a number of vehicle-pedestrian accident have occurred, the council decided to have Dawood Engineering Inc. consider incorporating an audible signal that would accompany the existing walk signal for pedestrians.

This summer, the council had directed Dawood to look into whether the timing of the light at the intersection should be changed, due to the fact that pedestrian-vehicle accidents have occurred at the intersection. Dawood has not yet completed the evaluation of the intersection.

Dawood has been hired by the borough to design the upgrade of the traffic signals in the borough to video-activated ones.

The council will be advertising this month for a replacement for borough Secretary/Treasurer Mary Ann Harris, who is retiring at the end of this year after working for the borough for 28 years, Borough Manager Tom Fairchild Jr. said. Harris has agreed to continue to be the co-chairperson of Riverfest.

"We'll miss her," one council member said. "She will be hard to replace. She has a wealth of knowledge."

Harris said it has been a pleasure working for the borough.

Fairchild reported that the borough will be receiving approximately $173,000 in revenue this year from the impact fee on gas drilling companies.

Due to concerns over whether the borough's police pension fund will have enough funds in the coming years, the council voted to re-open the borough's contract with the borough's police officers so that the borough could substitute a 401(K) plan for new hires, instead of the pensions that officers now get.

"No one can afford (to provide defined benefit pensions) anymore," said Council member William Kovalcin Jr.

The Teamsters Union, which represents the officers, must also agree to re-open the contract, Fairchild said.

In addition, the council voted to require that the police officers make a 5 percent contribution to their pension in 2013, the highest amount allowed. This is the third year in a row that the officers have made a 5 percent contribution to their pension fund.

Towanda Borough Code Enforcement officer Jim Haight reported that the issues at Fairchild's Hardware Building at 401 Main St. "have been resolved for the time being." The owner of the building, Paul "P.J." Fairchild, has been awarded a certificate of compliance from the borough, Haight said.

The borough had required that certain repairs to the north wall of the building be made, and those repairs have been made.

The council also scheduled two workshops to work on the borough's 2013 budget.

The first will take place at 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 28. The second, if it is needed, will take place at 5:15 p.m. on Nov. 29.

The workshops will take place in the council room at 724 Main St.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.