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Lower Macungie Township considers forming its own police force

By Stephen Althouse, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Jul 05 2012 10:11:39 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 06 2012 05:16:45 AM CDT
Generic police car

Lower Macungie Township President Ronald Eichenberg said it was 15 years in the making.

Thursday night the Lower Macungie Township Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 to issue a Request For Proposal to study options for police services for the township.

The wording of the exact proposal threatened to take another 15 years until commissioners could precisely refine the actual document so that it did not suggest that the township is not satisfied the service they receive from the Pennsylvania State Police, but rather considering all options and costs associated with establishing their own police force.

Commissioners deleted a sentence that read “Significant growth in the township has resulted in concern that the PSP no longer adequately services the needs of township residents” from the original RFP to stress that isn’t not an issue of poor service.

At the Public Safety Committee meeting prior to the board of commissioners meeting, Scott Forbes, head of the committee who crafted the RFP, said that there is a “perception that Lower Macungie Township is a wealthy township relying on the state police instead of biting the bullet to have our own police force.”

“It was never our intent to replace the state police,” Forbes said later during the board of commissioners meeting.

The RFPs will be due to the township by noon, August 31 and up to three public meetings could be held to present the findings of the study to the public.

In other business, the commissioners heard from the Delta Development Corporation about burdens facing the massive Hamilton Crossings project that is proposed for development at the former industrial mining site positioned between Hamilton Boulevard and Route 222. The build-out of the Target-anchored commercial center will require considerable off-site, public infrastructure improvement.

The project, termed Thursday night “as a major one for the township” by Eichenberg, has been “burdened by increasingly costly on-site environmental remediation and off-site transportation costs,” according to a letter written by Delta to the supervisors.

In an effort to the fund a portion of the escalating expenses which cannot be supported by the project, the developer is pursuing a variety of funding sources, including Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) capital.

On Thursday night it was reported that Hamilton has engaged the township, the East Penn School District and the Lehigh County Industrial Development Authority in discussions related to the pursuit of a TIF and that Lehigh County would be approached shortly.

The group also is requesting $3.6 million in RACP funding to assist, in part, with the extensive mine wash remediation needed to develop the site.