City housing starts increase

JOHNSTOWN – The city is on its way to having eight new housing starts for 2013, which one city official said might be unprecedented.

“I think it’s some kind of record,” Fire Chief Bruce Heberer told the Common Council on Tuesday.

In his monthly report to the council, Heberer, who is also the city’s code enforcement officer, said seven new houses have been built this year and construction plans are in the works for an eighth.

They are single-family houses, and most are in the area of Falcon Crest Drive and Pine Avenue, he said.

Heberer and Mayor Sarah Slingerland have frequently reported to the council in the past year that housing activity is up and development of new construction in the city Johnstown has also been on the rise.

Continuing his report, Heberer said construction continues for the new T.J. Maxx store at the Johnstown Shopping Plaza on Route 30A. Heberer didn’t have a completion date for the project, although he noted developers are pushing for a holiday season opening.

Pennsylvania-based Johnstown Comrie Associates is building the new 23,400-square-foot, single-story, steel-frame store next to Romana’s restaurant, on the north end of the shopping center. The store says it will sell brand-name family apparel, accessories, shoes, gifts and jewelry at discount prices.

Heberer also reported the city Fire Department replaced several windows at the station on North Perry Street.

In another public safety report given to the council, police Chief Mark Gifford said he wished to issue a reminder about city schools opening Thursday. He said he wanted to make motorists aware that “school zones” exist, where traffic must slow down near the buildings.

In particular, he wanted to remind drivers of the reopening of the former Jansen Avenue Elementary School for high school technical courses.

“Parts of that building will be in session, just like the other schools,” Gifford said.

Johnstown Public Library Director Erica Wing reported the facility is using fall hours now. She said an online survey done by library officials about the facility resulted in 173 responses, which she said was a “huge number.”

More than 90 percent of those surveyed said the staff at the city library is helpful and knowledgeable, Wing said. About 86 percent ranked the library collection as “excellent.”

“We used the results of this survey to create a long-range plan the Board of Trustees will adopt,” Wing said.

Johnstown 3rd Ward Councilwoman Helen Martin gave the report for Johnstown Senior Citizens Center Director Michelle Jones, who couldn’t attend. Martin said several defensive driving courses are scheduled in coming weeks at the center. She also reported the center has contracted with a tree service to remove certain trees lining the center property.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at