The upcoming bridge replacement project on East Broad Street in Tamaqua took center stage once again at this month's borough council meeting.
Borough manager Kevin Steigerwalt said that there had been a preconstruction meeting held earlier this week with PennDOT officials and he felt that it was a very good meeting. May 20 is the projected closure date for the road and the anticipated length of the project is 18 months.
Steigerwalt said that the borough and PennDOT will be preparing for the closure and the detour by placing signs and other items, like moving meter poles, line-painting, relocating parking places, and traffic restrictions.
"We are asking PennDOT to pay for those changes," said Steigerwalt.
Then, he dropped the bombshell that work will be done on the project for four days every week, for 10 hours a day.
"Three days of no work being done?" asked a stunned Councilman Ken Smulligan. "That's unacceptable. That bridge should be going six or seven days a week. This is bad.
"We can talk about detours until you're blue in the face, but the people in this town are going to suffer because they're not doing this the proper way. The bid is $2.5 million, and they're going to work four days a week at it? That's bull."
Councilman Brian Connely agreed that Smulligan was correct, however, he was not optimistic that anything would change.
"We're not getting anywhere. The end result at the end of the day, they're going to say fine, we're going to pull the project. Now you have a weight restriction and your bridge is shut down. There. We showed them."
Steigerwalt said that the limited work time may not be entirely up to PennDOT.
"There are restrictions about when they can work in the river, because of the fish."
Steigerwalt said that the recommendation was made to ask for a waiver from those restrictions.
"They're going to talk to the fish commission, but working around the clock does not seem to be an option."
Council also discussed the request submitted by Edward Smith, from the American Legion, to hold the annual Memorial Day parade, which will be affected by the bridge closure.
Smith's letter contained two suggestions for alternate parade routes, one beginning as usual, at the end of East Broad Street, and proceeding to Greenwood, turning right, then again right onto Cedar Street, and then left onto Center Street, and returning to Broad Street at the 5 Points. The other suggestion was to start the parade at the northern entrance to town, at the All American Jeep Dealership and proceed down Railroad Street to West Broad Street.
On the recommendation of Sgt. Rick Weaver, this suggestion was vetoed.
Connely suggested that another route could be turning left onto Greenwood Street, proceeding to Mauch Chunk Street, making a left and going to Pine Street, to loop back to East Broad Street. Smith's letter indicated that this route may cause problems for the marching units, particularly the Raider Band, due to the incline on Greenwood Street.
In other business, council announced the retirement of James T. Barron.
"He served the borough for 38 years," said council President Micah Gursky. "He served most recently as code enforcement officer, but he did a lot of things that people don't realize through the years. We wish him well," he added.
Due to a publication glitch, council needed to take action to ratify all actions that were taken at the meetings since the beginning of 2013.
Council is required by law to publish a list of their meeting dates, at least three days prior to the first meeting. It was prepared and submitted to the TIMES NEWS, however, did not get published until Feb. 13.
Council discussed electronics recycling, which is no longer permitted curbside in the borough. The borough is currently investigating other opportunities for pick up, or at least a designated drop off point for electronic devices. Steigerwalt said that the borough's current garbage collector is planning to have a one time collection, where people can bring in their devices.
The bid for the Dutch Hill Playground construction project was awarded to Dirt Works Inc, of Slatington, in the amount of $36,950. The playground is scheduled to be completed by May 20.
Council heard from Joe Salla, who read a letter on behalf of his mother, Agnes Versailles, of Owl Creek, regarding the placement of a propane tank and generator on an adjacent property. Versailles questioned the safety of the position of the tank, and the weekly operation of the generator, which she says is creating noise and exhaust fumes which could be dangerous to her health.
Council approved two certificates of appropriateness for construction of an addition at 655 E. Broad St., and the installation of a sign, window, and door lettering at 101 E. Broad St.
Council hired Adrian Bumbulsky as pool manager and Chelsea Jones as assistant pool manager at rates of $12 per hour and $10 per hour, respectively. The pool is tentatively scheduled to open for Memorial Day weekend, including May 27, and then open for the season on June 1.
Council approved a daily pool pass rate for out of town, nonprofit groups of $5 per person per day. Non-profits must contact the pool ahead of time to make arrangements for their groups.