Monthly borough council meetings are open to the general public. But in most towns, including Lehighton, usually very few people attend.
Councilman Dale Traupman said he wants to know what people in the community are thinking, so he's come up with a plan to listen to them outside the four walls of the borough hall.
Traupman is suggesting holding a series of informal meetings with borough residents on their turf. He wants groups of council members to stage meetings at such places as the borough park, Community Grove, the Heights area, and the north end of Third Street.
He recommend these sessions "should not exceed 45 minutes and are for gathering information and feedback only. In depth discussions should be avoided."
There would be no official decisions made at these sessions, but matters of importance would then be discussed at the monthly council meetings.
Council member Melissa Ebbert was quick to endorse Traupman's idea. It does sound like a novel approach for the council members to let the electorate know they are listening.
It would be an opportunity for residents to explain specific problems to council members – problems like hang-outs where drug activity might be suspected, poor storm water drainage, and dilapidated buildings – without the formal forum of a borough council meeting. There could be suggestions made for improving the neighborhood or even the entire community.
This might be a concept that could be explored in other communities.
The meetings would be advertised so that the public would be aware that they are being held and as many council members as available could attend.
Obviously, most council members do make their presence known in the community. Generally, though, they hear individual complaints or recommendations. The informal meeting concept as proposed by Traupman would be an avenue where entire neighborhoods could discuss matters of importance.
The entire council agree to support Traupman's plan.
We can't wait to see how things work out with these neighborhood sessions.
By Ron Gower