The Lehighton Ambulance Association last week approached Summit Hill Borough Council and said it wants to build a new two-bay garage along East Ludlow Street.
One of the main obstacles is that the borough is under a moratorium by the Pa. Department of Environmental Resources forbidding new connections to the town's central sewerage system.
The DEP could grant an exception on the basis of "essential service." For such an exception, the council had to support the ambulance association in its request for the exemption.
That support came via unanimous vote of the council. It was the right vote.
Immediately we heard some rumblings that individuals can't connect to the sewerage system so why should a new ambulance garage be permitted. We can think of a few reasons.
Granting the approval to the ambulance garage, if the DEP approves it, won't change the status of the connection moratorium either way. Just because individuals can't connect shouldn't exclude the ambulance service from being permitted to have a hookup. We'd love to see new homes going up in the town, too, but approving or denying the ambulance garage isn't going to impact that.
Allowing the new garage to be built virtually assures long-term coverage in the borough by the Ambulance Association. Summit Hill doesn't have its own ambulance unit. The Lehighton Ambulance not only has basic ambulance service but also has a paramedic unit which is vital for such medical emergencies as heart attacks, strokes, and trauma patients.
The fact that there will be ambulance employees staying at the building indicates the borough will receive some taxes, such as occupational privilege taxes. With the present financial situation of the borough, every little bit helps.
The ambulance association currently has a garage in the borough. It rents space in a building next to the Switchback Mini Mart. There's nothing wrong with renting space, but opting to construct a building of which it will be the owner signifies more of a permanency for the ambulance association in the community. That's a good thing.
The building will be an improvement of an vacant lot.
We're glad to see the council take a stand and support something positive without letting it become too controversial.
By RON GOWER