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Thorpe discusses heavy rains, curb requirements

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Published August 09. 2018 12:53PM

Last month’s heavy rainfalls have taken their toll on area roads and, in some cases, the basements of area residents and businesses.

The damage had Jim Thorpe Borough Council President Greg Strubinger calling for the municipality to review its ordinance related to curbing requirements.

“I don’t think the ordinance is there to make everyone in the town put in curbing, but I think where you have issues and where it would make a difference, that might be something we could address,” Strubinger said at Thursday night’s council workshop.

Council heard from Donna Donati, a West Fifth Street resident, on Thursday, who said many basements on her street were flooded.

“There is no drainage on Fifth Street,” she said. “St. Joe’s Regional Academy basement was completely flooded, which impacted catechism classes. It’s not just my street. A lot of people are affected. I’ve lived here 22 years and can’t remember it being like this.”

Strubinger’s property was also impacted by one of the heaviest rains. In his case, he explained, water came from the street above him, through a neighbor’s yard, before reaching his home.

“To me, putting in curbing is going to be cheaper in the long run than having your house with water consistently running in it,” Strubinger said. “I’ve even offered to help the neighbor pay for curbing.”

According to Jim Thorpe Public Works Supervisor Vince Yaich, the town has rain gauges on each side of town, which is split by the Lehigh River. The variation in measurements have been staggering.

“The east side of town got 4.1 inches of rain in 75 minutes,” he said. “The west side got half of that in the same time period.”

Council solicitor James Nanovic was not at Thursday’s workshop to give his take on the curbing ordinance, but Borough Manager Maureen Sterner said it is very clear. Council, she said, has the right to require any resident to install curbing.

“Where that needs to be done, council or our engineer has to make that decision,” she said.

“We can have our engineer go look, but there is currently no money budgeted for that. If you don’t want to make every resident install it, you need to set up some kind of standards to determine where that is going to be required.”

Drawing a line in the sand as to where and how many residents would need to install curbing wouldn’t be an easy decision, several council members admitted.

“We forced Evergreen Cemetery to do it years ago,” Councilman Jay Miller said. “It cost them a lot of money.”

One resident, Ed McArdle, suggested the borough move forward with installing curbing and billing the property owners.

If homeowners refuse to pay, Miller responded, the borough could be facing a large deficit until it could recoup the money.

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