East Penn Press

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Vacating Ore Alley still up in the air

Thursday, July 14, 2016 by Loretta Fenstermacher Special to The Press in Local News

David Kutzor of Keystone Consulting requested an answer from Alburtis Borough Council about vacating Ore Alley at the meeting June 29.

Property owners on both sides of Ore Alley have notified the borough they would like Ore Alley to be closed. Borough resident Cory Schmaldinst said he was against vacating a publicly-used alley to benefit one person and a business.

Also against vacating was Mayor Kathleen Palmer, who questioned how the closure would benefit the borough.

“You do not have to maintain it. It is a safer ingress and egress to the property and it would function better than it is now,” Kutzor said. Kutzor also mentioned a letter was received from the fire company stating a potential closure will not impede their ability to fight a fire.

“It gives people much better sight distance to pull out,” Councilperson Steve Hill said.

Solicitor David Knerr explained the borough would only give up the right-of-way if they vacate the alley, then it would become the property of the owners but the borough would have utilities and sewage easements.

When asking if there was a chance the alley would be vacated and if they should proceed, Knerr said an ordinance must be passed before anything is done.

Council President Ron DeIaco did not want to bring this to a vote during the absence of two council members, John Aleszczyk and Sherryann Oels; however, he did ask for a straw pole, which revealed he and Kathleen Raines were undecided. Margaret McCormack and Hill were for vacating. Steve Kaufman and Mayor Kathleen Palmer were against vacating. This will be discussed further at the next meeting.

An inflow and infiltration of the borough’s sanitary sewer system update was given by Jeff Ott of Ott Consulting, Inc. Ott has been attending monthly meetings with engineers and monthly meetings in Western Lehigh Macungie, Upper Macungie and Lower Macungie.

With the heavy rainstorms the plant cannot treat everything and there are leakage problems in the borough’s system because of cracked pipes. The overflow is going into the river. In order to measure flows in the line and reduce the I & I to an acceptable flow, the borough needs to replace and reseal its manhole covers.

There is an administrative order for council to have a plan by the end of the year. Discussions on costs and what material will make up the new pipes (such as petrified clay or PVC) are taking place. The first phase of the replacement project is estimated to cost $2.3 million over a 10-year period, or $230,000 per year. Financing might be made through the Lehigh County Authority or a local bank. After the costs are determined, the homeowner rate will increase.

Phases two and three will be related to bond issues. Approximately 900 sewer laterals, which connect homes to the borough’s system, must be located, measured and photographed. Ott estimates this will take between four to six weeks and will cost between $5,500 to $8,000 plus $1,500 to download and insert the information into the GIS plan. An intern from Ott would undertake the task. Council passed a motion authorizing the intern to begin the work.

Council approved unanimously to apply for a Department of Community and Economic Development grant to help with the cost of curbing and road work in the borough.

Council unanimously approved to apply for a grant from the 2016 Fresh Paint Days Pennsylvania for 20 gallons of paint to finish painting the Lockridge Church.

With one nay vote from Kaufman, council approved to contract with Preservation Pennsylvania Agreement for professional consulting services to the borough for their Pennsylvania Historic Resource Survey Form for the Alburtis Historic District. The PPA will review data gathered in 2013 in the database to be prepared and submitted to establish an historic district in the borough and, if accepted, will enable the borough to receive grants. Total cost for this service is $5,250.

Council approved unanimously a meeting with Manager Sharon Trexler and employees to discuss the AFLAC plan.

Since there is no deed for the bird sanctuary and the land is not fit for development, Council passed a motion to write to the Butz Foundation and ask them if they would be willing to give the land to the borough without restrictions. If they do, the borough will take the land.

Council approved unanimously a request from park and recreation committee Chairperson Kathleen Raines for $20 to buy paint for the sign at the hockey court.

Council approved Resolution No. 2016-10 appointing Jason Douglas, who was present, to the planning commission for a 4-year term beginning March 4 and expiring March 4, 2020 to replace David Lehr whose term expired March 4. Douglas thanked council for his appointment.

Council passed a motion to accept Justin Rickert’s bid of $2,400 to repoint Lockridge Church.