NEW CASTLE Phone-service switch irks Verizon workers

City officials plan to take a closer look at the Cascade Park deed.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- City officials say they saved about $2,000 by switching local telephone service from Verizon to Fairpoint Communication.
Verizon employees, however, say that's nothing compared with what they contribute each year in wage tax, parking and patronizing local restaurants and businesses.
"It's a real slap in the face to see that New Castle has gone to Fairpoint Communications but has decided to keep AT & amp;T long distance because of the jobs they provide in this area," said Amanda Mayberry, who is a service representative consultant in Verizon's South Mercer Street office.
Made a switch: The city switched to Fairpoint, an Erie-based telephone service provider, last year when lower rates were offered.
City administrators have said, however, that they decided not to switch to a cheaper long-distance carrier because of the 200 jobs AT & amp;T brought to the city in 1997 when a national relay center was here.
"What about the 73 of us who have jobs with Verizon?" Mayberry said.
She said Verizon's employees contribute about $12,000 each year in wage and occupational taxes to the city.
Mayberry said Verizon has not indicated whether anyone will be laid off or the office moved because the city switched providers, but there is always the fear that jobs will be lost because of competition.
Nina McAdams, who works for Verizon, said she understands the city is trying to save money, but she became upset after reading an article in a local newspaper that said the city would remain with AT & amp;T to preserve jobs at the local office.
"They want to stay loyal to AT & amp;T, but our jobs are in the city, too. Some of my co-workers have been here for 32 years," she added.
City resident Mary Ellen Jessel also questioned why the change in telephone service wasn't done at a public meeting.
Council President Robert Bullano said the decision to switch telephone providers is routine business and is handled by the mayor and city business administrator. Both were absent at Thursday's meeting.
Also on agenda: In other business, city officials say they plan to take a look at the deed for Cascade Park after a resident alerted them they could be violating some provisions.
The deed says the park must be open to the public at all times or the land reverts back to its original owner, Penn Power Co., said Joseph Sparano of Mahoningtown.
Sparano believes the deed provision is being violated when the entire park is rented out to groups who charge admission to events.
City officials also agreed to hire local consultant Ralph A. Falbo to conduct a yearlong study of the downtown housing market.
The study is part of the downtown revitalization project. If a need is found, developers may have access to federal housing dollars for new construction or renovation.

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