East Penn Press

Monday, January 27, 2020

Robert announces candidacy for L. Macungie Twp. commissioner

Thursday, March 28, 2019 by CONTRIBUTED ARTICLE in Local News

Maury G. Robert, a resident of Lower Macungie Township for 35 years and a resident of the Lehigh Valley for over 50 years, has announced his candidacy for Lower Macungie Township Commissioner in the May Republican primary.

Robert is a Navy veteran who served four years during the Vietnam War. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in management and an MBA, both from Lehigh University. He has been very active in the community by serving on the Lower Macungie Township Planning Commission for 33 years, past service on the East Penn School District School Board for eight years and as a board member of the East Penn Chamber of Commerce for several years.

Robert retired after 35 years of service in the information technology division of Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.

During Robert’s tenure on the planning commission, several miles of sidewalks and macadam paths have been placed to provide pedestrian connectivity in the community, with most paths built at developers’ expense.

Township recreational land and parks have increased substantially. Over a thousand acres of flood plain along the Swabia and Little Lehigh Creeks have been deeded to the township by developers, forming the basis for the township’s extensive greenway along the creeks.

Several township roads have been added and improved, including the extension of Mill Creek Road from Spring Creek Road to the Route 222 Bypass and the extension of Sauerkraut Lane from Mill Creek Road to Route 100 (and future extension to Spring Creek Road). North Krocks Road has evolved from a cornfield to a two-lane road to the current multi-lane road with bike lanes.

The township has overseen the efforts of many developers to add stoplights, improve intersections, synchronize stoplights and add lanes to roads to relieve traffic congestion.

While much has been done to maintain and improve the daily experiences of township residents over the 30 years, more needs to be done. Robert believes the township public works department has done a good job maintaining the township’s roads and parks; however, the macadam bike paths are up to 30 years old and would benefit from routine maintenance such as sealing, coating or resurfacing to extend their useful life. These paths are a valuable asset to the residents and the township and the township should ensure adequate maintenance.

The Little Lehigh Creek and its tributaries like the Swabia Creek are some of the most valuable natural resources in the township, according to Robert. Almost all stormwater runoff in the township will eventually end up in the Little Lehigh, which also provides much of the drinking water in the township due to the link between the Lehigh County Authority and the Allentown water systems.

The township has been acquiring flood plain along the creeks for many years to preserve and protect the waterways, but an ongoing effort to maintain the creeks and the flood plain has been limited. The banks need stabilization to mitigate erosion and fallen trees in the creeks and floodway should be removed to increase the carrying capacity of the creeks and decrease flooding.

The township should be more proactive in identifying problems and maintaining the creek beds and related floodplains owned by the township and encouraging other landowners of floodway lands to do the same.

A key action item for the commissioners is to put more emphasis on maintaining the township’s existing resources.

In the past, the commissioners have generally dealt with infrastructure maintenance and land development issues on a case by case basis. Robert believes working with the township manager on a consistent policy-based approach would be a more effective way to address these issues in the future.

Robert supports more reliance on a five-year capital plan. The township has put a considerable effort into developing master plans for various aspects of the township, including a Parks and Recreation Master Plan, a Greenway Master Plan, a Hamilton Boulevard Master Plan, a Camp Olympic Master Plan, a Kratzer Farm Master Plan and an Act 209 Traffic Improvement Plan, among others.

Each plan has millions of dollars of recommendations for improvements, but a prioritized expenditure list has not been established. Using a five-year capital plan would allow the Lower Macungie Township Commissioners to review and re-prioritize these and other expenses on an annual basis as an early step in the budgeting process.

In summary, Robert believes the township should protect, preserve and improve the many assets of the township, including but not limited to the creeks, greenways, roads, bridges, stormwater facilities, sewers, parks, pathways and buildings in a fiscally responsible fashion.

The township should rely more on a prioritized five-year plan based on master plans both currently available and developed in the future. The commissioners should provide the township manager with the policies, tools, and direction needed for him to most effectively manage the day-to-day township operations for the benefit of its residents.

Robert has a strong financial accounting background. This, combined with his experience on the school board and the planning commission, make him ideally suited to lead the township to a new level of openness and accountability. He has no obligations to any special interest group. As with his previous campaigns, this campaign is being funded solely by Robert and his family.

Robert and his wife of 44 years, Margie, raised two children, Michelle and Renee, in Lower Macungie Township.

The only special interest group he represents is all residents of the township.