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Clash with state may hurt Coal St.

W-B Twp. wants state agency to return land, put sidewalks on Highland Park Boulevard.

WILKES-BARRE TWP.—A dispute over unfulfilled promises from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation relating to Highland Park Boulevard has put a crimp in a plan to redevelop Coal Street, an engineering firm discovered Monday.

Lawrence R. Fetich of Pennoni Associates presented the final design proposal to widen Coal Street as part of a five-lane connector road between Pennsylvania Avenue and the interstate, using Highland Park Boulevard and crossing Wilkes-Barre Township Boulevard. But council told Fetich there would be no permission or assistance until PennDOT comes through on earlier promises made to the township.

The municipality was promised sidewalks on Highland Park Boulevard, the return of three lots transferred to PennDOT in the vicinity of Wegmans and property situated between the interstate and Watson Street in the township, said Council President Mary Yuknavich.

Until those actions are taken, the township will not help the Coal Street connector route acquire land in front of the M&T Bank and closed PNC Bank location on Coal Street that falls within the boundary lines of the township.

Fetich said those properties are essential to the widening part of the road project, which will also be taking land from Coal Street Park and the Interfaith Heights properties.

When asked whether the road widening could continue up the northern side of Coal Street, as opposed to cutting over and going up the southern side, Fetich said the plans could not go farther along that side.

It cannot touch the Hassay building, he said.

The issues have been under discussion for at least four years, said Township Solicitor Bruce Phillips, and despite assurances, have still not been resolved.

Township officials are prepared to sit down with PennDOT and the engineers, but the officials would like to see action on the previous promises, Yuknavich said.

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