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Palmerton siren intact

Published September 24. 2010 05:00PM

Palmerton's nighttime siren will not be silenced.

Borough Council on a 5-1 vote Thursday, with Councilman Chris Olivia opposed, agreed to keep the siren intact. Councilman Richard Nothstein was absent.

Olivia said he voted against the siren because he was worried about the "health and well-being" of the residents who are opposed to it.

"Even though they were in the minority, they still have to live with that siren," Olivia said. "I thought it would be better to knock it off."

Council president Terry Costenbader told the audience he recently reviewed the postcards the borough received from those against the siren, as well as the petitions that were received from those in favor of it.

After he weeded out the names of individuals who signed the postcards and the petitions that don't live in the borough, Costenbader said the figures showed 213 residents were in favor of the siren, compared to 55 who were against it.

"I went out to the West End, which has a siren, and I haven't heard anyone (there) complain," he said. "When I'm looking at 55 names versus 213, that's telling me the majority of people in this community want to keep the siren."

Costenbader also noted that the borough recently spent $18,000 to have the siren moved to its current location.

"I don't want to throw away $18,000," he said. "I can understand where you're coming from, but I'm looking at (a ratio of) four people to one to keep the siren."

Prior to the vote, resident Glen Rehrig again voiced his displeasure with the siren, and distributed a copy of the borough's noise ordinance to council members.

Rehrig focused his efforts specifically on the limitation of noise levels, and noted the ordinance is accessible on the borough's website.

"The issue of whether to sound or silence the curfew siren has unfortunately wedged itself between the citizens," Rehrig said. "The noise ordinance is not written exclusively for some, but is exclusive for all."

But, resident Lillian Jordan said the siren isn't that loud, and couldn't understand why the matter was such a big issue.

"You have people who watch television, have dogs barking at 10 p.m.," Jordan said. "The kids don't mind it."

A tradition in the borough for decades, the siren sounds off twice a day: at noon for lunchtime, and at 10 p.m. to signify curfew for children.

Last month, resident Liz Perschy presented council with a petition with over 200 signatures from residents who wanted to keep the 10 p.m. siren going.

Rehrig, who said he lives within 200 yards of the siren, asked whether the sounding of the nighttime curfew siren was necessary, as the siren can emit a sound level as great as 140 decibels.

Afterward, council was asked whether it would look to rectify its ordinance.

Costenbader said council would review the ordinances, but didn't say whether any changes would be made.

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