Lehighton Borough Council members voted to repair the roof of the Judge's Stand, formerly used at the Carbon County Fair when the fair was held in Lehighton. Repairs will be paid for by a grant which must be spent by June 30, 2012. They approved the quote of $16,500 to repair the roof by Hinkle Roofing. This quote includes a 20-year warranty.
"There's been a lot of discussion over the past 6-8 months. With the deadline of the grant rapidly approaching, we need to make a decision on what we want to do," said borough manager Nicole Beckett.
"We're trying to preserve a piece of history. We don't want to be cheap about it, but if we can do it at a reasonable price and have this roof for 20 years," said Rehrig.
The board also discussed moving the stand to the downtown park, noting that it would cost $3,000 to relocated the stand. They decided to keep the stand near its current location at the Lehighton Grove.
"Why use that kind of money to move it? We can use that money to fix it up," said Hunsicker.
Council members voted to replace the stand roof with a silver-colored shingle roof, similar to the color of the stand's original roof. Council member John Bird was sole member opposing the repairs.
The meeting also included a public hearing regarding the Community Development Block Grant for 2012. Jim Martino of Carbon County Office of Planning and Development introduced the block grant and noted that this was the second public hearing for the grant and a chance for the public to comment on the use of funds.
This year's block grant is being considered for loan repayments to the former Lehighton Junior High School, now the Lehighton Borough Annex, he explained. The anticipated grant amount is for $91,173, which includes $74,762 in project costs and $16,411 in administration costs. The grant is meant to support projects that benefit low- to moderate-income residents in the borough.
Resident Robert Snyder asked why the borough is using the block grant to pay for building improvements to the annex, proposing that the grant be used instead of fix borough streets.
"Why isn't the rent paying for that building," he asked?
Martino noted that he is not responsible for project selection, but implements a block grant project at the council's request. Council members did not respond to Snyder's inquiry.
The meeting opened with a moment of silence and prayer for Ralph Hunsicker. Hunsicker was a member of the Lehighton Water Authority for 19 years.
In other matters:
- Council members agreed to donate $250 to the United Veterans Association to defray the cost of Memorial Day services. This is the same amount as last year's donation.
- Members approved SS. Peter and Paul School's request to hold their annual 5K race and fun walk through the borough, starting in front of the school on Coal Street. The race will be held on May 26, 2012. Registration will begin at 8 a.m.
- Members discussed supporting the Lehighton Boys and Girls Band Hall. The Band Hall's current building on Sixth Street needs a new roof, estimated to cost $15,000-$21,000.
Hunsicker noted that the borough has not offered assistance to the Band Hall since 2009, while they used to give a donation each year. Solicitor James Nanovic said that the borough can support municipal music at their discretion.
"I don't think we want to get in the business of helping businesses with buildings," said Hunsicker. The council agreed to donate $1,050, the amount they would have donated from 2009-2012.
- Council members approved a request by the American Cancer Society to place purple bows on telephone poles on Ninth and Mahoning streets to mark their annual Relay for Life at the Lehighton Area football field, provided that the bows are not hung with staples or nails. Relay for life will be held June 2 to June 3, 2012. The bows will be removed by Relay for Life organizers after the event.
- They accepted a letter of resignation from Kay Leiby as a representative of the sewer authority. He will remain on the board until a replacement can be found. The board also made a motion to advertise for vacancies on the water and sewer authority.
- Members approved the purchase of a 20 yard hook lift container (dumpster) to restart the borough's Yard Waste Recycling Program at a cost of $3,315. The container will be used to collect yard waste and transferred to a compost facility.
Mayor Donald Rehrig also asked if the borough has plans to replace residents' recycling bins. Beckett agreed to consult the county to discuss the availability of grants to cover the cost.
- They appointed Nathan Andreas, the owner of Andreas Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, to the borough's Property Maintenance Board.
- Council also approved the hiring of one part-time police officer who will replace an officer who is leaving. The candidate, Ryan Kennedy, was recommended by Police Chief Neal Ebbert.
They will also advertise for additional part-time officers in the newspaper. The borough currently employees three part-time officers, but these officers have limited availability as all have full-time jobs.
"Applications were very slim. It wouldn't hurt to have a few names available," said Ebbert. "We try our best to be selective."
- Council members also discussed the use of Skyline Park on Third Street, noting that they do not want to spend funds improving the park if residents will not use it. There have been problems with vandalism in the past and several members noted that improving the Grove and Baer Memorial Park might be a better use of funds, simply because these facilities see more use by residents. They encouraged residents near Skyline Park to contact the borough if they are interested in using the park.
"I think that a bit of input from people at that end would be helpful," said Donald Rehrig.
The next borough council meeting will be held on Monday, May 21 at 7:30 in the Municipal Building.