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Historic stand's status uncertain

Published October 25. 2011 05:01PM

The large, wooden, octagonal structure next to the basketball courts at the Lehighton Community Grove probably won't be moved any time soon.

Last night, a two-member committee was appointed by Lehighton Borough Council to determine the future of that structure, which had at one time been a judging stand for race horsing at the former Carbon County Fair that was held for over a century in Lehighton.

Borough manager Nicole Beckett told the council she needed guidance regarding what to do about the stand.

John Drury, a historian from Jim Thorpe, approached the council several months ago and said he would like to assist with having the stand moved to the downtown borough park.

It had been proposed to place the stand at First and North Streets as a temporary location, then move it to Second Street across from the municipal building.

The two-member committee consists of council President Grant Hunsicker and Councilman Scott Rehrig. Another council member, John Bird, was asked to serve on the committee.

Bird declined, stating, "I'm not for the project."

The stand is believed to have historical significance, being one of only two like it in the entire country.

A $20,000 grant has been obtained to make repairs, but council was informed that the relocation and renovation project could cost $60,000.

Beckett said there "needs to be more input from council" on whether the project should go forward.

Drury told the council when he met with them that relocating the stand to the downtown park would generate interest in the judging stand. He said he would then work on raising funds from the community, through volunteers, to get additional repairs done to the structure.

The restoration project could take several years, the council had been told.

"My biggest concern is the $20,000 and the rules that come with the grant," Beckett informed the council.

The most pressing requirement, she said, is that the grant is utilized by June.

She said the grant can be used for the relocation project if bidding occurs.

Hunsicker said he would like to see the $20,000 used to repair the roof.

"I'm concerned with losing a piece of history," added Rehrig. "If we're not going to fix it, we should get rid of it. But I hope we would fix it."

Rehrig said he and Hunsicker toured the stand.

"It is not termite infested, it is not rotted," he said.

Hunsicker said if the roof repairs would cost more than $20,000, then he would give consideration to getting rid of it.

Rehrig said money could be saved on the project by not moving the stand.

Hunsicker and Rehrig will discuss the matter as a committee and report back to the council.

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