Northwestern Press

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Heidelberg board meets in person

Thursday, June 25, 2020 by SARIT LASCHINSKY Special to The Press in Local News

In a meeting room set up for social distancing, with protective plastic screens and a mandatory mask-wearing policy, Heidelberg supervisors had a quick meeting June 18 at the municipal building.

This was the first in-person meeting since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic emergency in March.

Chairman Steven Bachman and Vice Chairman Jonathan Jakum were in attendance. Supervisor David Fink was absent.

During the fire company report, Germansville Fire Company President TJ Stellar noted firehouse operations were going well, and the company’s new truck has been on-call with no reported issues.

Stellar noted, however, that due to the coronavirus, the company has been unable to rent the social hall, have events or most fundraisers, although he added the recent drive-through flower sale went well.

Emergency Management Coordinator and Zoning Officer Dawn Didra reported Lehigh County had filed for a COVID-19 block grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development and may offer money to Heidelberg and other municipalities once the amount of grant funding is ascertained,

Didra will continue to pursue other funding sources to cover the township’s pandemic expenses, and she recommended the township continue its disaster declaration for the duration of Lehigh County’s declaration to help with funding sources.

She also said work was continuing on the township’s pandemic plan and reported COVID-19 information is being provided to the township’s road crew.

For the May ambulance service report, Bachman noted Northern Valley EMS had a 92 percent year-to-date response rate and a 100 percent response rate for the month, with an average response time of 11.47 minutes.

In his report, township engineer Chris Noll said a home for sale at 6065 Memorial Road had failed its septic certification and hydraulic load test, and the property was unsuitable for the installation of a septic system.

Noll said the only recourse was to provide a holding tank permit to the residence, with a maintenance cost of $5,000-$7,000 per year.

He suggested the board hold a workshop meeting to address the issue. Supervisors agreed to take the issues under consideration.

Under the township’s unfinished business, Noll said he had spoken with the Lehigh County Authority regarding installation of handicap ramps along sidewalks in Heidelberg Heights.

He noted Solicitor Keith Strohl was inquiring into the legal status of LCA’s position to not install the ramps.

Noll said if full reconstruction work is required, all crosswalks in the area would need to be upgraded with ramps to meet ADA compliance.

He will be sharing ADA information with the LCA. The board agreed to keep the topic on the July meeting agenda.

In other business, township Administrator Janice Meyers said the auditor’s report for the township looked good, but they were inquiring about changing several fire company fundraising and utility charges out of fire tax expenses and into the general fund.

The amounts ranged from $69-$300.

Bachman said fire tax funds have more restrictions on usage, and Stellar said the fire company would look into the expenses, although he noted the general fund will be tighter due to a lack of fundraising opportunities.

The board agreed to discuss the matter at the next meeting.

Additionally, Michael Kistler asked the board about having a handicap ramp installed along Herman Street to help his mobility-limited mother get to her house.

Noll noted that while the township can authorize sidewalks and curbing be fixed, it will not cover the costs.

He added all nearby property owners would be assessed for the necessary public improvements.

The board agreed to have Didra, Noll and Road Master Kevin Huber assess the site.

Further discussions will take place during the next meeting about potential solutions.

Supervisors also approved the purchase of a municipal building security system including key fob access, keypads, maglocks and a video doorbell/intercom system from Kit Network Cabling for $2,641.81.

Lastly, the board asked Huber and Noll to inspect the structural integrity of the township’s traffic signal poles in response to a request from PennDOT.

Meyers said all poles will be entered into the state traffic asset management system after inspection.

The next board of supervisors meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. July 16.