EMMAUS BOROUGH COUNCIL
At the July 17 Emmaus Borough Council meeting, resident Jason Jesmain, who is currently volunteering with the Emmaus Fire Department and the Recreation and Entertainment Commission, spoke before council regarding issues he’s been having at the community pool.
Jesmain said a lot of “out of city people are coming in and trashing the place, there’s a lot of vulgarity and people don’t watch their kids.” He says these people are from Allentown or have New Jersey license plates.
He also said some of the people he talks to don’t want to come to the park and pool anymore because of these issues.
“I thought it was for the Emmaus community,” Jesmain said. “I understand it’s going to be a revenue generator, but at what cost are we putting out our own people of Emmaus?”
Borough Manager Shane Pepe said while council doesn’t disagree with his position, the word “public” is the key to the whole thing and what’s “equitable and fair.”
“We have to be careful of laws and policies that we pass,” Pepe said. “We’ve got to make sure they’re equitable to everyone and everyone has a fair chance. We’re governed by that. Unfortunately, when it comes to things like a public pool or a public park, our personal beliefs sometimes have to be set aside because we have to be governed by these rules.”
Pepe said they have been getting a large increase in attendance due to Cedar Beach being closed for the past two years. While the pool revenue has increased, the amount of chemicals they go through has increased and the amount of trash generated in the park has increased. He said however, the number of crime and pool related incidents haven’t increased.
Pepe went on to say this is an issue council is aware of and they have been trying to address how to deal with it in a fair way. He said they also look at it from another perspective such as maybe they aren’t being as accommodating as they’re supposed to be.
“That’s not a popular stance, but that’s something we need to have discussions about,” Pepe said. “Are there things that we can do to help them understand the language barrier or things we can do to help them understand what the rules are?”
“There are a lot of people who make assumptions and you cannot assume they’re out of town,” Council President Brent Labenberg said. “Emmaus is becoming a very diverse community, which is a good thing and many of those families that you are referring to as “out of towners” are members of our borough and are part of our community now.”
Four years ago, council created a regulation stating out of town people had to pay an additional $7 to enter the pool in order to try and help the problem. Pepe said many people were not happy about that and immediately thought they were being discriminatory. Additionally, they lost roughly $40,000 in revenue that year.
Jesmain was told if he has any other problems to speak to the lifeguards or pool manager so they can resolve the issues.
In other business, developers Bill Wall and Tom Walsh from W2B2 came before council requesting a zoning map change on their proposed Townhouses at South Mountain. The area is located on the 10 acres between Tilghman and Arch streets and will allow 48 housing units.
The original plan was to have three-quarters residential medium and one-quarter conservation residential. The new proposed plan moves the conservation residential line and will allow for almost twice the amount of space. The developers are also requesting a special exception to allow townhomes instead of twins.
The special exception regarding the townhomes will have to go to the zoning board, while the map amendment is a decision to be made by council. In order to approve the zoning map change, council has to advertise, hold a public hearing and then draft a new ordinance. Council voted 7-0 in favor of allowing the process to start.
The property is currently owned by Rodale, but is under agreement of sale for W2B2 to purchase. The settlement date is set for Aug. 10.
After a lengthy executive session, council announced Emmaus Police Department Sgt. Kevin Schmidt failed to complete his probationary period and will be demoted back to rank of patrolman.
Chairwoman Lee Ann Gilbert, who is head of the Public Safety Committee, declined to comment on the situation.
Schmidt was sworn in and promoted to police sergeant last year along with fellow officers Jeremy Schilling, Bryan Hamscher and Jason Apgar.
President of the Emmaus Youth Association John Zgura, spoke to council regarding the baseball fields they use at community park for Little League.
“The past two times we have gone down there after rain storms, the adult league that plays there have pretty much destroyed the field,” he said.
Zgura said they are pushing all kind of filth and dirt inside the field, and it takes his volunteer coaches hours to fix them in order to be playable. He said volunteers are hard to come by and having them work for hours to fix a field is not helping.
He said they understood the income coming in by renting out the field is helping to pay for some of the bills, but for the adult league to pay a small fee, come in, destroy it, and then walk away and not do anything is costing the youth organization more money because they have to fix the field.
The issue will be addressed during the parks and recreation committee meeting.
Ambulance Chief Jeff Hoffman thanked the Emmaus Women’s Club for their recent monetary donation. He said the women’s club had excess funds at the end of their fiscal year so they donated $150 to the ambulance core. The money was used to purchase a case of safety glasses that have been distributed to most of the EMTs and paramedics.
“I just want to say how important it is we stay connected with the community organizations, and I know several organizations have helped the fire, ambulance, and police over the years and we really appreciate that,” Hoffman said.
Ordinance 1156 passed its first reading which essentially updates the duties and responsibilities of the borough manager. The last time it was revised was Jan. 1, 1998.
Ordinance 1157 passed its first reading which addresses vehicle and bus drop-off and pick up parking issues on East Minor Street relating to the Seven Generations Charter School. According to Councilwomen Lee Ann Gilbert, the student drop off area will be moved to the school’s parking lot while making the area on Cherry Street for bus parking only.