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Walnutport approves remainder of work for vet memorial

The finishing touches are about to be applied to a veterans memorial in Walnutport.

On a 6-1 measure, borough council on Thursday approved DDR Construction Services Inc. to complete all work at the monument at a cost of $4,500.

The work is to include curbing, handicapped accessibility, pattern concrete and the installation of flagpoles.

Councilwoman Patrice Hunsicker, who cast the sole negative vote, explained why she was opposed.

“We’re paying for this twice,” Hunsicker said. “Donation or not, it comes from the community; we’re paying for it twice.”

After the meeting, borough grant coordinator Michael Wentz said the only thing the borough is paying for twice is the first slab of handicapped concrete walk that had to be pulled out,

“There was nothing else that is being paid for twice,” Wentz said. “The borough dug it out; that’s the only thing that is being redone.”

Wentz said DDR will clean all the concrete, and added that a borough resident has agreed to install LED lighting.

“If everything goes right, it should be complete and done for Veterans Day,” Wentz said.

The decision comes after council in March withdrew the borough’s application for a nearly $25,000 grant for the memorial.

Councilwoman Jennifer Wentz said at that time it wouldn’t have been feasible to maintain the grant, and added the borough was looking at alternatives to finish the project. Wentz said council’s decision wouldn’t affect the status of the memorial in the small park between Washington and Fifth streets.

Wentz previously said that the memorial work was being paid for through a combination of money from private and public donations, moneys from the Centennial Committee, as well as in-kind services.

In July 2019, council agreed to spend an additional $2,700 for concrete work that includes an Americans with Disabilities Act ramp.

That came after council agreed in June 2019 to spend up to $2,500 for concrete work at the memorial.

Also in June 2019, council received a pair of donations that totaled $3,000 toward the memorial; one a $2,000 check from the Diamond Fire Co., and $1,000 from the Diamond Fire Co. Ladies Auxiliary.

Several members of the 2009 Centennial Committee attended a council meeting in April 2019 to discuss the use of about $11,000 that was set aside in the Centennial fund for improvements to the memorial.

Committee member Doneta Merkle told council at that time the wish of the Centennial Committee was for those funds to be used toward the memorial.

Michael Kukitz, who served as executive director of the Northern Lehigh Recreation Authority until he resigned in March 2019, had obtained the grant for $23,983, funded by a grant through the Northampton County Livable Landscapes Program, Northampton County’s Open Space Initiative.

The work will include the removal of trees and putting in new decorative trees, flagpoles, benches, lighting and improved access to the memorial.