December 12: PATCO’s new cars | Unclear who will pay water-main damages | Council debates development notification | Metal fabricator moving to American St.

Good morning Eyes on the Street!

PATCO unveiled the first two of its refurbished commuter rail cars this week. The cars feature brighter colors, higher ceilings, better lighting, digital displays, new seats, video screens and security cameras. The seating capacity in each car is slightly reduced to make room for handicapped-accessible seating and a closed cab area for the operator. The cars were renovated as part of PATCO’s $194 million, 120-car makeover project. The first cars are expected to run in February. 

Who will pay for the $2.8 million in water damages claimed by homes and businesses impacted by a southwest Center City water-main break two summers ago is unclear. The city committed to paying for the damages, but the $2.8 million in claims filed is more than five times what the city is allowed to pay. State law sets the amount that the city can pay at $500,000, but Verizon and PECO alone have filed more than $1 million in combined claims. 

Council is debating whether Registered Community Organizations (RCOs) or developers themselves should notify neighbors of proposed land use. Councilman Bobby Henon, who introduced the bill that passed out of council yesterday, said 75 to 80 percent of the time, RCOs do not notify neighbors. This legislation would require developers to notify residents within a 200-foot radius of proposed future development. Opponents counter that it adds too much red tape.

Metal fabricator Veyko Inc. is building a $2.1 million manufacturing plant along American Street in East Kensington. The 11,550-square-foot building will fill a vacant lot that is part of a federally-designated Empowerment Zone, which will provide tax incentives. The company currently operates at 216 Fairmount Ave. When it relocates to its new facility, it will add 15 new jobs. 

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