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Lehighton OKs Wine on the River

On a 4-1 vote, borough council on Monday approved the request of the Lehighton Downtown Partnership to hold the fourth annual Wine on the River at Baer Memorial Park on May 6. The rain date is May 7.

Councilwoman Autumn Abelovsky was opposed. Councilmen Darryl Arner and Donnie Rehrig were absent.

Before the vote, Councilwoman Lisa Perry explained the concern shared by several council members.

Perry noted that last year’s event was held amid “torrential” rainstorms, and that there was various parking in the grass.

She said council just wants to be sure the football field and grass won’t be ruined.

Bambi Elsasser, Lehighton Main Street manager, assured council the event won’t need to utilize the football field.

Abelovsky said she was concerned with vehicles being parked on the grass.

However, Elsasser noted that only vendors would be on the football field.

Still, Abelovsky expressed several reservations, including the fact the borough wants to promote its downtown, yet the event is being held on the outskirts of the downtown.

“As far as the rain (and even if there’s no rain), I think there will be damage,” Abelovsky said. “I have concerns over the long-term damage of the area (that’s in question).”

Public Works Superintendent Kris Kunkle noted that the borough spent close to $1,000 between fertilizers and grass seed there.

Elsasser attempted to squelch Abelovsky’s concerns.

“We do have insurance,” Elsasser said. “It is our only fundraiser really that makes money.”

Borough Manager Steve Travers told council he could work with Elsasser on the layout of how they’re going to do it.

Councilman Ryan Saunders said the matter shouldn’t be an issue so long as everyone works together.

In October, council on a 3-1 vote approved a request from the LDP to hold the event at Baer Memorial Park.

Rehrig, who cast the sole vote in opposition at that time, said that he was opposed because children will be in the park.

At that time, Saunders and Abelovsky, along with council President Grant Hunsicker, voted in favor of switching locations.

Before that vote, borough solicitor Jim Nanovic cautioned council that the borough’s ordinance states there is to be no alcohol in parks.

Elsasser previously noted that in each of its first three years, the event was held at the Lehighton Outdoor Center.