Road conditions a hot topic among community leaders at Mountain Top meeting | News

WRIGHT TWP. – The state of county-owned roads in Mountain Top, opposition to bridge tolls on Interstate 80, and collaboration between businesses in Crestwood Industrial Park and the Crestwood School District were topics that highlighted highlights the first of what officials hope will be regular meetings between Mountain Top business leaders, elected officials and community stakeholders.

Representatives from half a dozen industrial park companies, state, county and municipal elected officials as well as Crestwood School District and community leaders attended a lunch meeting last week at the Wright Twp. municipal building. The meeting was organized by Wright Twp. civil servants and moderated by Donald Zampetti, president of the supervisory board of the canton.

One of the topics that caught the eye was roads, particularly the poor condition of county-owned roads in the industrial park and throughout Mountain Top.

Romilda Crocamo, acting county director of Luzerne, acknowledged that the county’s 123 miles of roads and bridges need a lot of work. “We have a list of roads that need immediate attention,” she said. However, she told the rally that she and her management team were committed to finding “the right money to replace, renovate and maintain” those roads and bridges.

“We need an infrastructure plan,” Crocamo said. “A one-year plan, a five-year plan, a 20-30 year plan,” she said. She noted that current Luzerne County Council members are very interested and committed to repairing the county’s long-neglected infrastructure.

Crocamo stressed that quality roads and bridges are key to attracting businesses with skilled, well-paying jobs. She said the county is looking at how it can effectively use the American Rescue Plan Act and infrastructure bill funds. She pointed out that the county council had recently approved the submission of a $950,000 grant application to the local sharing account to repair Oak Hill Road in the Crestwood Industrial Park.

The acting county executive is leading the charge against PennDOT’s plan to toll two interstate bridges in Luzerne County. Last year, the county council unanimously approved a resolution opposing the plan. This opposition to the plan was echoed by State Senator John Gordner, R-27, who was present along with State Senator Lisa Baker, R-20, Lehman Twp.

While the Gordner Senate District currently does not include any Mountain Top Municipality, a redistricting plan expected to take effect soon would place most of Mountain Top within the district currently represented by the Republican of Berwick. Baker, who currently represents most of Mountain Top, would no longer represent those communities when the proposed plan goes into effect.

Gordner told the group that he, too, opposes tolling bridges and is working to reverse the highway department’s plan.

Roads and bridges weren’t the only topics discussed at the meeting.

Crestwood School Board Chairman Barry Boone said he believes the school district should have strong relationships with businesses in the industrial park. He said he would like business leaders to review and give feedback on the curriculum currently offered in high school. “We need to prepare students to enter the labor market right out of high school,” he suggested.

Michelle Schmude of the Crestwood Education Foundation (CEF) explained that the foundation helps fund initiatives that are not directly supported by the district budget. Some of the CEF supported programs include Odyssey of the Mind and the Logo Robotics Club. She explained how businesses can take advantage of the state’s Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program by getting involved with the foundation.

Zampetti told the group he was planning another meeting for mid-May.

Jessica C. Bell