Tamaqua Borough Council has been informed that there have been some last minute changes to the central business district transportation project that is scheduled for construction next spring.
Originally, the traffic improvements were to include left turn arrows at the Five Points intersection, along north and south on SR309. At Tuesday night's meeting borough manager Kevin Steigerwalt said that after meeting with PennDOT last week, he was informed that it had repeated a traffic study on the area and felt that the left turn signals were not warranted.
This information did not sit well with several council members. Council President Micah Gursky called the changes "unacceptable," saying that "the whole point was to make the Five Points safer and get more traffic through the downtown.
Councilman Steve Tertel said that these signals need to go back in the plan and that he is making arrangements to provide some video footage of what happens at the intersection now, without the signals.
Council members also questioned why there would be turn signals at the Spruce and Center street intersection and along Mauch Chunk Street, both before and after the main intersection. The one at the Spruce Street intersection is designed to allow school bus traffic to flow better before and after school.
Councilman Tom Cara said that the issue shouldn't be a "showstopper." He recommended that the project proceed and that upgrades be performed at a later date, if needed.
Gursky disagreed with him.
"They'd be spending money for pretty lights," he said. "We'd be back to another decade before they'd make those changes."
Council voted to approve letters to local state and federal officials informing them of the decision, and requesting them to get involved to get the project back to the initial proposal.
Councilman Brian Connely urged citizens to add their voices and contact their representatives, as well.
In other business, council approved a bid of $30,000 from Grand Prix Excavating to demolish the structure at 311 Orwigsburg St.
It also awarded two contracts, one to Tom's Plumbing and Heating, in the amount of $4,635 and one to Dawson Home Remodeling, in the amount of $30,700 for the general construction, for the property at 223 Pine St.
Police Committee Chairman Ken Smulligan advised council that the borough is in need of at least one new police vehicle. The police committee will be working with the building and equipment committee to develop a plan to replace the police cars.
Solicitor Michael Greek informed council that the Reading and Blue Mountain Railroad has filed a tax appeal with the county.
Council approved a request from the Tamaqua Chamber of Commerce to close a block of East Broad Street for the annual New Year's Eve celebration, including the ball-rise. The TIMES NEWS is once again a major sponsor of the event.
Carl Wolfe was reappointed as the sewage enforcement officer.
Borough treasurer Georgia Depos informed council and the public that there is currently an "Angel Tree" in the lobby of borough hall. The tree holds the names and Christmas wishes of less fortunate children in the Schuylkill/Carbon area. Volunteers are asked to pick a name and supply the gifts. They can be returned to the Tamaqua Salvation Army by Dec. 15.
There is still time to participate in the community health survey that was offered at the Tamaqua Public Library in November. Residents of the Tamaqua Area can pick up a survey at the Tamaqua Chamber of Commerce.
Business owner Ed Paperman thanked the police department for its help during a recent robbery at his place of business. Police Chief Dave Mattson said that the community has been the victim of several burglaries lately and urged citizens to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity.