SUNBURY — A veterans’ call-in center slated to be installed at 218 Chestnut St. is growing in scope, architect Stan Seiple told City Council members Monday.

“It’s going to be a call-in center for the whole United States,” Seiple said.

The council voted unanimously to give Seiple a 25-year lease for $1,000 for a 5-foot wide strip of ground adjacent to the city’s parking lot abutting the Chestnut Street property, which formerly was Moffatt’s carpet store.

Seiple, who revealed his plans for the building at last month’s council meeting, said he needs the strip of land for a wheelchair ramp for 20 employees who are expected to be “wounded warriors.”

Last month, the council considered giving him a lease-to-purchase contract. On Monday, the members decided to keep the land, but let Seiple have the long-term lease. Member Jim Eister first suggested a dollar a year.

The amount settled on was not based on anything, said Mayor David Persing.

Persing said the city has not been told what company or person will operate the call center.

The center will be under the management of a private operator, Seiple said. He said interest in the center is growing and mentioned that “the National Guard is in on it” now.

In other business, the council agreed 4-1 to move the code enforcement office to the third floor of City Hall, so it could have more space than it has on the first floor.

“The last four years, they didn’t get much accomplished there,” Eister said. “I’m not talking about the employees.”

Eister and fellow members Kevin Troup, Todd Snyder and Joseph Bartello voted for the move. Persing voted against it. He said he would have preferred they rented the third floor, which was remodeled a few years ago for the McCann School of Business, which outgrew the space.

In an unrelated matter, Persing suggested the city explore offering police protection to nearby rural areas that do not have their own departments. He said state police have been saying they can’t afford to continue to do rural policing for free, and the state Legislature looks poised to impose some fee for the service. “Something’s going to pass,” Persing said. “I just wonder if we could help at a cheaper rate.”

Persing said he was looking at improving overall police protection and creating a savings for taxpayers all around.

“I don’t see how you could work those figures,” Eister said. “I know we’re not overstaffed. If we take on more, we’d have to add more policemen.”

“That’s not necessarily true,” Persing said. And the state’s imposition of fees for state police service could lead to a lot of regional police formations, as rural areas “scream” they can’t afford it.

“Well, they’re going to have to afford something,” Persing said. And with Sunbury already having “things established,” that might be the better choice for the smaller municipalities.

In its pre-meeting work session, the council heard a proposal from Julia Marano, of Friends of Shikellamy State Park and the Confluence Connection Coalition, about providing outdoor movies on a rotating basis with the park and Northumberland borough. There was no objection, and Persing told her to pursue the matter and bring back more information.

The coalition is planning a river celebration over the Memorial Day weekend, and Marano said the group would like to have an evening concert in Cameron Park on that Saturday. Council members had no objection to that, either.

An agenda item to review the new city administrator’s job description was postponed. Eister said the mayor wanted to add some things to it.

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