Borough workers commended for work during snowstorm
LIZ PINKEY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Nick Zigmant, the executive director of the Tamaqua YMCA, presents a one year update on the YMCA's newly opened facility to Tamaqua Borough Council. Zigmant recapped the first year and outlined plans for the growth and expansion of the facility and programs for the upcoming year.
Tamaqua Borough Council commended borough workers for their efforts during the recent snow storm that left the area blanketed in 19 inches of snow and the town in a state of emergency.
Borough manager Kevin Steigerwalt noted that all of the departments have "pitched in and helped out." Councilman Steve Tertel added that he and fellow councilman Brian Connely had been out during the storm as representatives from the parking and traffic and public safety committees monitoring the situation. "We made sure the emergency routes were open, that the police, ambulance, and fire departments could get through," he said.
Council fielded several questions from residents who had concerns about the ticketing and towing of cars during the snow removal process. Steigerwalt said that a schedule has been posted through the end of this week and the local media has been notified of that schedule. Steigerwalt reminded everyone that cars will be ticketed two hours before removal begins and then towed, at the owners expense.
Councilman John Trudich mentioned that he had been to the borough of Lehighton to observe their snow blower removing snow and recommended that Tamaqua look into purchasing a similar piece of equipment. According to Trudich, it could reduce the amount of time and equipment that it takes to clear the streets.
Council also discussed two pieces of property, an empty lot at 23 Market St., that the borough currently owns, and a property at 223 Pine St. that will be coming up for judicial sale. The Market Street property was up for auction last week and there were no bidders. Council recommended re-advertising the property at a lower price and holding the auction again. The council discussed purchasing the Pine Street property to prevent it from being snapped up by an out of town landlord. "Quite frankly, there are people from all around that prey on these situations," said Mayor Christian Morrison. "They like to go in with $10,000 and buy a bunch of houses." According to several council members, the property is in good shape and in a good neighborhood and would make a good home for a local family. Councilman Ken Smulligan also said that the borough has done this successfully in the past.
Council voted to proceed with two letters of intent to participate in two free studies that are offered by the DCED for help with technical assistance. Essentially, an outside consultant will come in and review the current management of the police department and make recommendations for improvements that could save the borough money. The other study would review the feasibility of a regional police department. Council president Micah Gursky noted that establishing a regional force would take the cooperation of several neighboring municipalities and could take years. Smulligan added that this would be a good starting point for such a force. Morrison also recommended another study specifically designed for early intervention in distressed communities that would review the entire borough "business", including all of the departments managed by the borough; however, this program requires a 50 percent match in funds from the borough and could cost up to $60,000.
Council discussed a previous vote to request RFPs for the operation of the Bungalow Park concession stand. According to Steigerwalt, the three year contract with the previous provider has expired. Council had voted to ask for RFPs from interested parties at the last meeting, but rescinded that motion last night. Steigerwalt said he will meet with the previous provider to see if they are interested in continuing to provide the service under a new contract.
Nick Zigmant, the Tamaqua YMCA executive director, also presented an update to council on the first year of operation of the YMCA's new facility, located in the Jamesway Plaza. According to Zigmant, the Y currently has about 1,600 members and has plans to expand their services in the next year.