East Penn Press

Sunday, December 16, 2018

EMMAUS BOROUGH COUNCIL

Thursday, March 1, 2018 by TARA CARMAN Special to The Press in Local News

Council applying for grant to evaluate parks; wait time policy introduced

Emmaus Borough Council unanimously passed a resolution to allow the borough to apply for a Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant at its Feb. 20 council meeting.

If awarded, this grant will support the borough in funding the studying to evaluate the nine parks and trail systems, which in turn will help council determine a long-term plan on what improvements and remodeling needs to be done.

Borough Manager Shane Pepe said the grant will be an estimated $90,000 to $95,000 with the borough being responsible for paying half. He said it will take DCNR until at least November or December to approve the grant, so this will not be included in the budget until next year.

“We have aging infrastructure in our park system and that means getting to the point where we need to start showing off some major money in order for us to be able to apply for DCNR,” Pepe said.

If this grant is approved, it will allow the borough to apply for much larger grants in the future which will help pay for park equipment and trail projects.

“It’s a considerable amount of money up front right now, but when you look at the grand scheme, this is a small amount compared to if we want to replicate that in all the different parks and do the investment that we think is necessary moving forward,” Councilman Wesley Barrett said.

Pepe said Lions Park equipment needs to be replaced and that alone will cost $70,000 easily. The equipment being purchased has to be commercial park equipment and up to code, which is expensive.

If approved, the study will take two years. This will allow council to spread the budget money out over those two years to fund the next stages. The borough is looking at 2021 until they can do anything.

Pepe noted the study will not include the borough pool, which would run about $40,000 alone and isn’t as high of a priority as other park needs.

In other business, council unanimously passed an excessive wait time policy for ambulance and non-emergency transport services used throughout the borough. This involves vehicles picking up and taking residents to the hospital or doctor’s office for appointments and does not include transports where an individual is having a medical emergency.

Councilman Chris DeFrain said other municipalities follow an excessive wait time fee and suggested Emmaus follow suit.

Pepe said to his understanding, the fee schedules were already established.

“Believe it or not, these fees are already in your fee schedule,” Pepe said. “What we didn’t have though, was something to determine what really defines excessive things.”

Emmaus Fire Chief John Price was present to explain the procedure further.

“For example, if we’re taking someone to a doctor’s appointment [round trip transport] who needs a wheelchair, if we have to wait more than 30 minutes beyond the time of the appointment, the clock starts ticking [in] 15 minute increments.”

Price continued to say if they arrive at a resident’s house to pick them up for an appointment, and they are not ready in 15 minutes, that is also considered an excessive wait.

“It’s kind of like if you call a cab and you ask the cab to wait for you, they leave the meter running,” Price said. “By making us wait, they stop us from getting another transport in the day.”

Price said there was a specific incident last month that triggered this movement, which involved a crew having to wait at a doctor’s office for a resident for over two hours.

“For what we charge for transport, we’re spending taxpayer money at that point,” Pepe said.

This policy will go into effect June 1, 2018, which will allow the department to hand out fliers to frequent users and doctor’s offices, as well as send out press releases and social media posts regarding the new policy.

Mayor Lee Ann Gilbert noted the Project Lifesaver equipment, which is designed for “at risk” individuals who are prone to the life-threatening behavior of wandering, was used successfully Feb. 5.

Gilbert said the individual left his home with no coat and one shoe in the 24 degree weather. She said it took approximately 25 minutes from the time the officer was dispatched until the time the resident was found and returned home.

“I’m very proud of the department, and I’m thankful for that equipment that we do have and we can use it,” Gilbert said.