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Palmerton to spend $150,00 for site of new fire station

Published September 12. 2011 08:28AM

Palmerton has agreed to spend nearly $150,000 to purchase a home it will demolish and eventually use to house its new fire station.

After about a 70-minute executive session, council, on a 5-1 vote, with one abstention, agreed to acquire the home at 509-511 Lehigh Avenue. Councilman Randolph Gursky was opposed. Councilman Richard Nothstein abstained.

Borough Manager Rodger Danielson said the homes have been appraised at $70,500, and $75,500, respectively.

"One [homeowner] is very anxious to sell," he said. "The other, not so much."

Danielson said the borough had previously determined that the fire station would be built in the borough lot at Fifth and Lehigh Avenue.

"We've been looking for a location for some time, with an idea to put it at Fifth Street," he said. "We received some additional space to make it what it needed to be."

Danielson said the borough would use money from its general fund to purchase the property.

"We'd like to start construction soon," he said. "We'd like to have it completed by early next summer."

In May, the borough hired S.J. Elton Architect, of Bethlehem, to design the borough's new fire station.

Last October, then Speaker of the House Keith McCall presented borough officials and members of the West End Fire Co. No. 2 with a $906,000 check for the purchase of a new fire station.

The borough will utilize that grant, along with $35,000 from the borough's general fund, to cover the $940,000 cost to construct the fire station, Danielson said.

A veteran volunteer firefighter in Summit Hill, McCall said the grant was a "small token" of what the commonwealth can do for its volunteer firefighters.

Danielson previously said the grant - which came courtesy of gaming revenue from Mount Airy Casino in Monroe County - would cover the "vast majority" of the expenses.

The borough wants to get all of its equipment and firefighters in a centralized station, and added the consolidation would improve its efficiency, Danielson previously said.

For years, Danielson said West End Fire Co. No. 2 and Palmerton Fire Co. 2 and Palmerton Fire Co. No. 1 comprised the same department.

That was until June of 2009, when council announced that the Palmerton Fire Co. No. 1 would cease with the swearing in of West End Fire Co. No. 2.

As a result, all of the assets of Palmerton Fire Co. No. 1 were dissolved, and council agreed to consolidate the fire companies.

All told, a total of $12,506,892 in Mount Airy gaming revenues generated by the Pennsylvania Horse Race and Gaming Development Act or Act 71 was distributed to Monroe and counties contiguous to it back in June.

Under the act, counties contiguous to Monroe are eligible to receive some of the revenue that is generated at the casino. The money will help fund a total of 34 projects that range from library construction and improving and creating parks to road repairs and restoring buildings.

The funding is distributed by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development's Local Share Assessment account.

To qualify for funding, each project had to show that it will serve the public interest and promote economic and community development.

Also on Thursday, council unanimously agreed to accept the resignation of part-time police officer David Mattei, effective last night.

In a related matter, council then agreed to offer part-time employment to Peter Swan and Shawn Leaddetter, pending their completion of a psychological and physical exams, and obtaining their MPOETC cards.

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