FARRELL Council rejects proposal for office

City officials said the county has failed to provide project details in a timely manner.
FARRELL, Pa. -- City council has turned down the Mercer County commissioners' latest proposal to build an office for District Justice Henry Russo.
Council went into a 30-minute executive session Monday to discuss the issue and returned to announce it was rejecting the proposal. The commissioners had notified the city they would agree to move ahead on a new office for Russo at Spearman Avenue and Roemer Boulevard, but only if the city put up an additional $80,000 for a parking lot, sidewalk and landscaping.
The city doesn't have the information it needs to make the decision requested by the commissioners by Friday's deadline, Mayor William Morocco said.
This puts the ball back in the commissioners' court, he said.
The commissioners have said if Farrell is unwilling to come up with the $80,000, the county would be back to square one in finding a location for Russo's office and would likely seek a site outside the city.
Project history
Council and the commissioners have been at odds over where the office should be built, although the two groups initially agreed on the Spearman-Roemer location across from the Farrell municipal building.
Farrell bought and cleared the land at a cost of about $100,000 and was willing to donate the property for the new office, but an architect's design put the cost at $410,000, a figure commissioners felt was too high, so the county began looking at other sites.
With the city insisting on that site, commissioners finally came up with a revised construction plan that would put the building cost at about $240,000.
Morocco said the city first heard about the proposal in the press but didn't get a Feb. 10-dated letter from the county outlining the plan until Feb. 18.
The county letter gave the city until Feb. 28 to make a decision, he said.
Farrell immediately responded by asking the county for details, but as of Monday night, the county had yet to provide that information, Morocco said.
Russo currently operates in undersized and antiquated office space on Mercer Avenue in Hermitage.

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